Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: February 26,  2018
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2018 
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

Question:I have a question about my citizenship. I applied to get my American citizenship early because I am married to an American. But once I was at my citizenship interview last week, the officer was really rude and asked if my husband had come with me and where was our marriage documents. I gave him my marriage certificate but he said no, he didn’t need that, I need marriage documents to prove me and my husband was still living together. He said he was going to have me to come in again and bring my husband this time. I have not got the new notice yet, but I am really worried because he and me have been broke up since last august 2017 and we are not talking anymore. I thought as long as we are still married and not divorced I could still qualify to get my early citizenship. Is that true? 
Answer: Most U.S. Residents must wait for 4 years and 9 months from the date of first obtaining their Green Cards before being eligible to apply for U.S. Citizen through Naturalization. However, the law allows U.S. Residents who are married to and living with their U.S. Citizen spouse in a bona-fide (real) marriage to apply for Early Naturalization in 2 years and 9 months after obtaining their Green Card. The law is generally known as the 3/3/3 rule: 1) The U.S. Citizen Spouse must have been a U.S. Citizen for at least 3 yrs; 2) The couple must have been married for at least 3 yrs and finally 3) The U.S. Resident must have held status as a Green Card holder for at least 3 yrs (really only 2 yrs & 9 mos).

Since you are no longer living with your U.S. Citizen husband, you are no longer eligible to apply for expedited naturalization based upon your marriage. A good option is to have your Naturalization application “withdrawn” in order to try and avoid any issues arising about whether or not you were eligible for your Permanent Green Card. Another option is to allow the case to be denied without pursuing the matter further. 

You can find out more about important Early Naturalization issues by calling our office at: 954-382-5378
New 2018 Poverty Guidelines Released 
for Affidavit of Support (Form I-864)
The new minimum income requirements under the I-864 Affidavit of Support have been released. Beginning in March 2018, U.S. Citizen and U.S. Resident Sponsors are required to meet or exceed 125% of the Poverty Guidelines in order to qualify. The income requirements for 2018 have increased just slightly from 2017. 

For example, the minimum yearly income of $ 20,575 is now required to sponsor a Spouse, compared with $20,300 for 2017. The new guidelines will be posted on the USCIS forms webpage as form I-864p beginning March 1st.
You can get a link to take a look at the new 2018 Poverty Guidelines which includes all U.S. States. Just remember that the Affidavit of Support for Immigration purposes requirements are 125% above the figures on the Department of Health and Human Resource website.

Here’s a few important tips for Sponsors to remember when filing an Affidavit of Support (form I-864) for loved ones:

Always include a copy of: 
a) your most recent tax return and W-2 
b) past 3 months paystubs and 
c) current letter from your employer stating your fulltime position, dates of employment and wages (which match your paystubs).

Importantly, self-employed income can often be problematic, since after deducting expenses, the net income is often far below the guidelines. Note that even if the sponsor does not meet the requirements, and uses the income of a Joint Sponsor, he or she must still file an I-864 and include evidence of income.

When submitting an I-864 from a Joint-sponsor who does meet the minimum income qualifications, be sure to include: 
a) copy of the Joint-sponsor’s U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, Naturalization Certificate or Green Card 
b) copy of the most recent tax return and W-2 
c) past 3 months paystubs and d) current letter from his or her employer stating fulltime position, dates of employment and wages (which match his or her paystubs).

Importantly, most U.S. Citizen parents sponsoring biological minor children under age 18 are not required to file an Affidavit of Support, since the immigrating child will automatically become a U.S. Citizen upon obtaining U.S. Residency. Instead, form         I-864W is required requesting the exemption. 

You can get free information about preparing I-864 Affidavits of Support, meeting the minimum income requirements 
or requesting an exemption by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.

Immigration How To:
How Do I How Do I Make An Infopass Appointment When None Are Ever Available?
InfoPass allows you to schedule an appointment at the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office to make an inquiry about your case with an information officer. However, as most quickly learn, the problem is that it is so difficult to get an available appointment, many Immigrants get frustrated and just simply give up. 

Appointments are only available to be scheduled for the next 2 weeks, so the only way to get one is to wait until an appointment opens up or one gets cancelled.
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will soon begin using license plate recognition tracking technology to identify, track and target some immigrants. According to The Verge, ICE has concluded a deal with a company called Vigilant Solutions which maintains a database of billions of license plate information, including owners’ names, addresses and registration lists, obtained from law enforcement, car repossession companies and others sources. 

The system feeds off license plates registered by police cameras, toll booths and other means, registering some 100 million new sightings per month, providing the exact date, time and GPS coordinate information. This gives ICE the ability to track license plates across the U.S. in “real time”. 
 ICE Set To Begin Tracking License Plates To Apprehend Immigrants
Now That Driving Without A License Can Be A Deportable Offense – 
Time To Consider Getting A Legal Driver’s License While You Still Can!
The system also allows ICE to be immediately alerted when a license plate of interest is located, enabling ICE to use this information in targeted Immigration raids. The practical use to the agency is the ability to track and apprehend criminals and those who pose a risk to others, but not to monitor or track Immigrants who are simply in the U.S. illegally. However, under the current Administration, there is always the risk that the system can be misused against innocent Immigrants, so we should all be a little wary. 

The Verge
Miami Herald
The Trump Administration’s Travel Ban, strict immigration measures at airports and worldwide crackdown on Tourist Visa issuance to those wishing to visit the U.S., has resulted in rapidly declining tourism rates, in what some call a “Trump Slump” in the U.S. tourism industry. Until recently, the United States has held the top spot as one of the most desired tourist destinations in the world, but with international visitors fearful of being denied entry after hours of airline travel, loosing booked hotel reservations and vacation package fees, a U.S. vacation is just not as appealing as in the past. It seems that Trump’s tough talk and extreme measures have taken their toll. Essentially, international visitors see the U.S. as having pulled up the “Welcome Mat” and replaced it with a sign that says “Keep Out”. 
 Whitehouse Crackdown Against Foreigners 
Causing “Trump Slump” In U.S. Tourism
According to industry statistics, the U.S. has recently seen a drop in 7.4 million international visitors annually, meaning some 100,000 American jobs not created. And with tourism/travel our country's No. 1 service export and No. 2 export overall, Trump’s anti foreign national rhetoric is hurting our economy and our image overseas. With this serious hit to the industry, many business associations have formed together in order to reverse the troubling trend. One such organization, called the “Visit U.S. Coalition” , aims to present plans to the Trump Administration which might begin to bolster the U.S. tourism industry and attract more foreign visitors, including more visa issuance, less waiting times for visas, etc. 

However, I fear such efforts will fall on deaf ears, since the only plan Trump is likely to implement would be one which restricts even more foreign visitors from entering the U.S.. Perhaps when the decline in U.S. tourism reaches a critical point and the news coverage gets so bad that even Trump voters realize that more foreign visitors are a good thing, the trend may reverse.

Chicago Tribune
Question: My brother is a citizen and he filed for me back in 2015 and the case is still pending. I want to come up for a visit with him and other family later this year and I am wondering if I can just stay in florida instead of waiting back in Jamaica. Can you tell me if that is possible please and what I can expect next in the process for my US immigration. Thank you.
Answer: As the sibling of a U.S. citizen, you are in the F4 Family Immigration category, which has a waiting line of about 12-14 years or more. Since your brother filed to sponsor you 3 years ago, you have another 11 or so years to wait. Immigration regulations do not allow family members being sponsored to live or work in the U.S. until they receive Residency, or unless they are in the U.S. legally in some other legal status like F-1 for students, H-1B for professional workers, etc. If an individual stays in the U.S. past their authorized stay, they become ineligible to be able to receive a Green Card in the U.S.. So it is not wise to remain in the U.S., if you want to be able to qualify to immigrate later on.

Once your brother filed the family petition for you in 2015, it can take up to seven or more years for the USCIS to approve your case. Once the case is approved, the USCIS forwards the file to the National Visa Center (NVC) to hold, until the time in the future when an Immigrant visa is available in the F4 category. At that time, the NVC will pull the file off the shelf and start processing the case for the U.S. Consulate in Kingston where you will have your interview. From the time that a visa becomes available, depending upon how long it takes you and your brother to provide the NVC with the required financial and other documentation, it can take 2-3 months before the file is finally sent to the U.S. Consulate in Jamaica for your Immigrant Visa interview to be scheduled. You’ll be given information about having a medical exam done and a list of original documents you must bring with you to the interview. Once you attend the interview and are approved, you pay the immigrant processing fees online and enter the U.S. to receive your U.S. Residency. You receive your Green Card in the mail in approx 15-30 days after entry. That is an overview of the entire process in a “nutshell”. 

Under Trumps draconian enforcement policies, any crime may subject an Immigrant to deportation. One of the most common violations of the law by many Immigrants is driving without a valid license. This is particularly true in Florida, a state which does not issue licenses to anyone who is not in legal immigration status. However, many states do, and this may be a very good time for you to make it a priority to get a valid Driver’s License.
States which have passed laws to provide Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants regardless of Immigration status defy a Federal Law called “Real ID”, which prohibits the issuance of Driver’s Licenses to anyone who is not in legal immigration status. Under Obama Presidency, states were encouraged to refuse to implement “Real ID” and to instead issue Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants.

However, under the new Trump Administration, he may “crackdown” on States which continue to issue licenses to Immigrants and the practice may be suspended, however those who have the license will be able to retain it. So, instead of putting your liberty and security at risk everyday when you go out on the road without a license, you would be well be advised to safeguard your right to drive legally and avoid the risk of charges for driving without a license and potential Immigration detention under Trump’s strict enforcement policies. 

So, since Florida law does not allow Immigrants without legal status to obtain a Driver’s License, Immigrants in our state will need to seek alternative options available in other states.. According to the National Immigration Law Center, the following states/districts now provide licenses to Immigrants residing in the jurisdiction, regardless of their Immigration status: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Puerto Rico, Utah, Vermont and Washington. 

You can contact each state’s Driver’s License website to find out what documents you will need and visit the National Immigration Law Center site to get a review of each state’s requirements.

Find out Driver’s License Registration Requirements:
National Immigration Law Center
But don’t despair, it is possible to get an appointment, it just takes perseverance. Go into the system and try scheduling your appointment at off hours like late at night or early in the morning, at times when not many others are trying to schedule an appointment. Another option is to keep trying several times each hour until something opens up. You may need to keep at it for about a week or so to be successful. 

To start, type in INFOPASS in your browser and click on the link on the page. Type in your mailing address ZIP code (so that InfoPass will assign you to the correct USCIS office). Select the type of appointment you need to solve your problem, provide your name, date of birth, ZIP code and telephone number, choose an available date and time for your appointment (if you don’t see a convenient time, check back with InfoPass – new appointment choices are made available each working day); and when the appointment notice appears on your computer screen (showing the time, date and location of your appointment), print it out to show at your InfoPass appointment. 

On the day of your appointment you will need bring:

Printout of the InfoPass appointment notice confirmation

Government-issued Photo identification (passport, valid driver’s license, Employment Authorization Document, or Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (‘green card”)

All immigration forms, receipt notices, approval or denial letters-including translations and original documents that relate to your inquiry.

For general information you can call the USCIS at 1-800-375-5283. 
Schedule an appointment and select “Make Your Appointment with Infopass