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POSTING DATE: February 24, 2020
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter © 2011 - 2020
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Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
Immigration How To:
How Do I Get My Original Documents Back From USCIS?
Reminder That Certain Minor Children Of U.S. Citizens
Are Exempt From The New Public Charge Rule
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Understanding Child Support Requirements For Naturalization
The Immigration journey from immigrant to U.S. Citizen can be a long one, and of course many requirements for eligibility must be met all along the way. In most aspects of life it’s never too early to plan for the future, in order to “stay ahead of the game”. The same holds true for Immigrants, including Residents with Green Cards. Most Residents plan on filing for Naturalization in the future in order to become a U.S. Citizen, this includes many Residents that are single or divorced, who are not living with their minor children.
Question: I want to take my husband’s last name. Should I make a special request in my application or is there some special form I need to fill out for that? Thanks
Answer: That is a great question. In most cases, an immigrant must use their legal name (from their birth certificate) or from a previous marriage if they changed their name as part of matrimony. Failing to provide a full legal name is one of the most common mistakes made on immigration forms, causing case delays and even denials. However, in the case of marriage, immigration regulations allow alien spouses to take their sponsoring spouse’s name or even hyphenate it with their last name, since the marriage certificate itself provides the basis for a legal name change. There is no special form to use to change your name on immigration records. All you need to do it to fill out the immigration forms by putting your married name as your last name on all your immigration applications. There is also a section that asks for other names used, just put your maiden name in that portion. That way, your immigration receipts will be issued in your married name and once your work/travel permit and social security card is issued in about six months, it will have your married name as well, as will your green card once it is approved.
Under the new Public Charge Rule taking effect today, all Residency and certain non-immigrant applications must be accompanied by evidence to demonstrate that the individual being sponsored or extending/changing visa status in the U.S. has not accepted public benefits in the past and will likely not do so in the future.
This must be demonstrated by extensive financial documents and other data required by the new form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, as well as additional questions on the new Residency and other forms. This means that in addition to the regular Affidavit of Support, filed by the U.S. Resident or Citizen sponsoring the family member to immigrate to the U.S., the actual immigrant is required to file form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency as well.
Generally, when filing immigration applications with the USCIS, Applicants should NEVER send original documents, since the USCIS will not return them. The only time originals should ever be sent to the USICS is when the officer specifically requests them, for instance in cases where original certified Court Dispositions and Police Reports are required when criminal issues are involved. However, Petitioners and Applicants are often unaware that only copies are required and often mistakenly send original documents, like an original Naturalization Certificate as proof of U.S. Citizenship.
U.S. law requires men to register for military conscription in case of war, under a program called the Selective Service System. This applies to men who live in the U.S. or who get a green card at any time between the ages of 18 and 25, requiring them to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, to be called up in a military draft if ever needed.
There are, however, certain exemptions, including those for men between 18 and 25 who were only here in a nonimmigrant visa status, like tourists, students, etc. Strangely enough, undocumented or “illegal aliens” are also now required to register, even though many do not.
Understanding How Selective Service Requirements Affect Immigrants
However, it is important to note that the new Public Charge Rule does not apply to children of a U.S. Citizen parent who are under age 18. Eligible children under age 18 who become U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) through their U.S. Citizen parents also automatically become U.S. Citizens, and are therefore not required to have an Affidavit of Support filed on their behalf. That means that neither the I-864 Affidavit of Support nor the I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency is required in such cases. This is true for children immigrating from abroad through a U.S. Consulate, as well as children adjusting status to U.S. Residency inside the U.S. through a U.S. Citizen biological parent. In these cases, the child must only file form I-864W, Intending Immigrant's Affidavit of Support Exemption, instead of form I-864 Affidavit of Support.
The Clock is ticking! Time is wasting away! As the months tick by we are getting closer and closer to state voter registration deadlines for the 2020 election. Do not let Trump be re-elected just because you were not able to vote in the upcoming 2020 Presidential election!
In Florida, the deadline to register in order to vote in the Presidential Primary Election (to choose the Democratic candidate to run against Trump in the general election) has passed (February 18th). But the deadline to register in Florida to vote in the General Election is October 5th 2020. These dates are important because USCIS processing of Naturalization applications takes time, but is now much faster than in years past. These days, the process takes an average of about six months.
There May Still Be Time Left For You To Vote
In The 2020 Presidential Election- File For Naturalization Now!
So even though you may have already missed the deadline to register for the Primary Election, you may still be eligible to get naturalized and register by the October 5th deadline, in order to vote in the General Election on November 3rd, 2020.
So don’t delay! Don’t doom America for decades to come by allowing Trump to complete his destruction of our country’ institutions, ideal and vital immigration system during a second term! As a Resident eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship, you hold precious power in your hands to shape our political history and the future of America, so use it!
However, those who have passed age 25, are not eligible to register and must face the potentially negative immigration consequences of passing the required registration date. For those, the easiest thing to do may be to wait until you are age 31 to apply for Naturalization so that five years of good moral character have passed (or 29 years of age to show three years of “good moral character” for those who are married to and living with a U.S. citizen for at least three years).
Immigrants who failed to register, but do not want to wait for the “good moral character” period to expire, need to provide the USCIS officer with documentation to demonstrate for instance that the Resident did not know he was supposed to register and did not “willfully” fail to do so. To do this, an Immigrant can submit the following along with his naturalization application:
2) Sworn Declaration, and sworn declarations from people who know the Immigrant, attesting to their knowledge of the reasons why he failed to learn about and did not know about the requirement to register or believed he was automatically registered.
USCIS officers have discretion whether or not to approve such cases, so it’s best to provide as much evidence as possible to ensure the most positive result.
Question: I have a sister who is a citizen and she filed for me back in 2011 when I was single. I understand about the immigration waiting lines, so I know I have a few more years to go before I can immigrate. My question is about me getting married. My girlfriend and I have been dating for a year now and we are planning to get married. Now I am wondering if that will affect my immigration case. Will it take longer for me once I get married? Will my new wife be included and be able to immigrate with me?
Answer: No need to worry, under Immigration regulations, brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens are in a category called F4, which includes the sibling, his or her spouse and all minor children (under age 21). As a result, any spouse or child the foreign sibling acquired after the U.S. Citizens sibling files the immigration petition, will be automatically included and allowed to immigrate to the U.S.. Therefore, your planned marriage will not have any bad consequences on the Immigrant petition filed on your behalf by your U.S. Citizen sister. Once the immigration process is in the final stages, approximately 14 years after the case is filed, your sister can notify the National Visa Center that you have married and provide all the relevant information including Birth and Marriage Certificates. Since your sister filed your case in 2011, you have approximately five more years to wait before a visa becomes available to you. I hope this is helpful.
Question: Hello, I got a problem. I got my 10 yrs green card thru my dad when I was 15 and its expiring in a few months. But Im scared to renew it because when I was 18, I got stopped for misdemeanor shoplifting and the judge made me take a course and do some other things to get it resolved. I never had anything else since then. I hear so many things about people getting deported that I don’t know if its safe to send in my renewal or not. I want to know from you if I can get my card renewed legally or is it a risk? If I can, does that mean I can also do my citizenship?
Answer: Under Immigration Rules, as long as the charge was for "petty theft", which is a misdemeanor in Florida and you have only one conviction, then it should likely not have a negative effect on Green card renewal or Citizenship (since the conviction was more than 5 years ago). There is a special “petty theft” exception in immigration law. It is important to know that when an individual is convicted of a crime, even if the case was later expunged, the criminal conviction must still be listed on all immigration applications, since having a criminal record expunged does not apply to immigration. The USCIS requires that applicants provide certified arrest reports and court dispositions when applying for immigration benefits. Having a case expunged makes it much more difficult to obtain. Many immigration cases are denied each year, simply because an individual had his or her immigration case expunged, thinking that it would not have to be reported to Immigration, only to find out later that the conviction must be revealed and documented. In your case, as long as the conviction was for “petty theft” you are likely safe to both renew your Residency (green card) and file for your naturalization. However, any time a foreign national is charged with any type of crime, due to potential immigration consequences, it is always a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney so they can review the police report and court disposition in order to be safe.
However many Resident parents do not realize that their actions today may prevent them from qualifying for naturalization in the future, based upon how they have been providing financial support to their children.
Generally, Residents must show that they have “Good Moral Character” in order to be eligible for U.S. Citizenship. This covers the preceding five year period prior to applying for Naturalization for most Residents, and three years for those eligible to apply for early Naturalization through marriage to a U.S. Citizen. Unfortunately, failure to provide proof of child support payments is one of the most common reasons that Naturalization applications are denied every day. This often happens even when a parent has actually paid child support, but simply fails to provide evidence of payments.
For background, immigration rules require that all parents (mothers and fathers) who do not live with their children (whether the children are inside or outside the U.S.) must provide documentation to prove that they have provided child support for all children under the age of 18, during the past five years. This is required whether or not there is a Court Order for child support payments. In most states like Florida, child supports can be paid through the state, this way there is a record of every child support payment and the applicant can get a printout showing of all support payments and provide that, along with a certified court order for child support.
The problem comes when there is no court ordered child support or when formal payments are not made through a government system. This is typical in many countries where child support is paid more casually, for instance, by paying for a child’s school, clothes other expenses, but no regular, direct payments to the child’s custodial parent each month. In such cases it’s very difficult to prove that child support was actually paid. Residents are often shocked at their Naturalization interview, to learn that they will not qualify for U.S. Citizenship unless they are able to provide proof of child support payments. Then comes the mad scramble to find money transfer receipts and other evidence requested by the officer, however in many cases, applicants often fail to come up with adequate proof in the limited time given and are simply denied.
As a result, Residents who do not live with their minor children should take steps as early as possible to begin making child support payments to children in the U.S. and abroad in an easily documentable way:
1) Have a Written Agreement: make a written agreement with the child’s other parent (dated and signed) clearly stating the child support amount agreed to be paid monthly or yearly and make sure all the payments are made as per the agreement. If child support will be paid some months for other expenses like tuition, clothes, school supplies, etc, rather than in a payment to the other parent, make sure that is mentioned in the agreement and detail the amounts and dates. The agreement should include a confirmation by the other parent that all payments up to the date of the agreement have been paid in full. Get a copy of the parent’s passport Biographic page.
2) Money Transfers: If the child lives abroad and the Resident pays child support through funds transfers, make sure and keep a copy of every money transfer receipt for every payment and try to use the same transfer company. Make a folder and assemble the receipts in date order. It is possible to order a transaction report from many transfer companies like Western Union, but it can be expensive and take several months or more. Very important note, do not wire transfer funds to any other name except the other parent’s name, otherwise, it will be difficult to prove that the funds transfers were for child support.
3) Check Payments: If the children live in the U.S. and the Resident is not paying support through the state, then payments should be made by check in the other parent’s name, with “child support” clearly written on the memo part of the check. Print out a copy of the “cancelled” check online from your bank each month and keep them in a folder, since it can be expensive if you want to order copies from the bank later. Also, if you change banks, those records may not even be accessible to you in the future.
4) Keep Track of Payments: Make a Payment Register, with the date, amount paid and method of payment for every single month.
Date Amount PaidType of Payment
12/1/18 $300 Western Union/Money Gram
Finally, Residents should also maintain a good relationship their child(ren)’s other parent, since prior to filing for naturalization, it’s wise to get a currently dated letter from the other parent, clearly re-stating the terms of the agreement, i.e. the amount of child support agreed on and that all child support has been paid to date. It should be signed, notarized and include a copy of the parent’s passport Biographic page or if in the U.S., Driver’s License. The best advice for Residents is to begin now, no matter how early or late and have everything in order BEFORE filing for naturalization.
When this happens, obtaining a duplicate Naturalization Certificate can be quite costly ($555) and take quite a bit of time. Fortunately, there is a way to obtain return of your original documents, by filing a request on form G-884, Return of Original Documents and submitting it to the USCIS office where your case is pending or where the last action was taken on your case. There is no filing fee required to make this request, but receiving your original document(s) can take up to one year or more. Alternatively, if you have mistakenly sent in your original documents and receive an interview at your local USCIS office, you can always ask the officer assigned to your case to return your original document.
The issue of Selective Service Registration generally comes up for male Immigrants who apply for Naturalization and are required to list their Selective Service Registration information. Failing to register for Selective Service can result in Naturalization denial for failure to show good moral character. For some, it is 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 25, can still register online.