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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
POSTING DATE: FEBRUARY 29, 2016
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Questions & Answers
Question: My question is about my divorce. I was married to my ex-husband in the Dominican Republic in 1995. We got divorced in 2006 in our home country, even though both of us live in the U.S., because our attorney said we could legally do so. I got my U.S. Citizenship in 2010 and recently got married to my new husband (who is from Venezuela) in 2014. In early 2015 we filed for his Green Card, but we got a denial recently because the immigration officer said that my Dominican divorce from 2006 is not legally recognized. We are so upset and confused about what to do. We want to know how soon we can refile his immigration case. I have an appointment to see you next Friday, but I just wanted to get some preliminary advice from you by email before we come to see you in person. Thanks.
Answer: Incredibly, yes, this is a very common problem in marriage immigration cases. Unfortunately, the USCIS does not recognize all foreign divorce decrees. While it can be very technical, put simply, state law governs whether or not a foreign decree will be recognized by the USCIS. In Florida, at least one party must reside in the state to obtain a legal divorce. Therefore, in your case, Florida law was applied. This is a big problem for Dominican divorces, which also do not require the physical residence of either party.
A good tip for an Immigrants who reside in the U.S. is to simply obtain a divorce in the U.S., rather than in the foreign country, unless the other spouse resides in the foreign country and files the divorce there. In Florida, an individual (including immigrants, even those without legal status) can obtain a divorce very quickly, in as little as 90 days or so, as long as he or she has resided physically in the State for at least 6 months. This is true, even if the foreign spouse resides in another country.
So in your case, since you live in Florida, you‘ll need to quickly get a divorce from your previous Dominican spouse here and then you can remarry your Venezuelan husband. Your divorce in the Dominican Republic is not valid (here), thus, your current marriage is not valid, so you likely aren’t required to divorce your current spouse, since you are not validly married. I would not file anything with the USCIS until this is corrected or you will lose all your filing fees! See you next week.
This Week's Immigration News
Naturalization Calculator Helps Residents Determine
When To File For U.S. Citizenship
Helpful Immigration Hints You Can Use
You Can Use the Handy USCIS Naturalization Calculator
To Determine When To File For U.S. Citizenship
Most U.S. Residents must hold Residency status for 4 years and 5 months before being eligible to file for Naturalization. Residents who are spouses of U.S. Citizens (and who reside together), who’s spouse has held U.S. Citizenship for at least 3 years are eligible to apply for Naturalization in 2 years and 9 months.
Calculating the exact time can be challenging and applications filed early are often returned or denied. Because of this, the USCIS has a handy-dandy calculator to help you determine the exact day you are eligible to file.
USCIS Updates Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document Form
The USCIS updated Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document in 2015. Form N-565 is used to apply for a replacement Declaration of Intention, Naturalization Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, or Repatriation Certificate, or to apply for a special certificate of naturalization as a U.S. citizen to be recognized by a foreign country.
Beginning April 5th, the USCIS will only accept the new edition of the form with the date of May 7, 2015.
Answer: Yes, unfortunately it is all too true. All responses to USCIS must be received on or before the deadline. The USCIS no longer considers “postmarked” dates as meeting that requirement. Importantly, when cases that are denied, all filing fees are lost and the case must be re-filed all over again, properly. For background, during processing of Immigration petitions, the USCIS frequently issues letters which request additional information or documentation in order for the case to be approved. Each request gives a deadline, usually 87 days to respond. If the response is not received by the deadline, the case will be denied, no matter how minor the document being requested seem.
Therefore, always respond as early as possible, and for best results, no later than 2 weeks before the deadline. Be sure to make copies of everything you submit and send your response by U.S. Express Mail next day service with a tracking number and delivery confirmation. Then be sure to check the USCIS website a week or so after sending to make sure the USCIS online status shows that your response was received. If not, get delivery confirmation from the Postal Service and call the USCIS 800 number with your delivery confirmation information. Never send any documents to the USCIS using Certified Mail, since it takes much longer to be delivered.
Question: My husband and I filed for his green card in December and the immigration sent us a letter asking us for his birth certificate translation and other documents. We sent the documents they requested using certified mail 3 days before the deadline date on the immigration letter. The problem is that we just got a letter from immigration yesterday that denied the whole case! The letter said they did not receive the documents before the deadline. Today I called the Immigration 800 number and they said its true the case was denied and we have to file the case all over again and pay a whole new filing fee of $1,070 for my husband. My question for you is whether its true that immigration has to actually receive our mail before the deadline or is the “postmark” enough and can they really keep all our filing fees?
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know Whether Or Not I Need To Register For Selective Service?
Make A USCIS e-Request
For Inquiries On Pending Cases
The USCIS offers customers with pending cases the option of sending an electronic e-Request for information using an electronic inquiry form on the USCIS Website. In order to make an inquiry, you will need to have the case number, form type, filing date, zip code on file and other information.
Selective Service Registration Requirement
For Certain Immigrant Men
All men in the U.S. between the ages of 18 through 25 are required to register for military “Selective Service”, which is also often referred to as the "draft."
The draft is a procedural measure which could be used by the U.S. government to gather military forces in times of war. The only time in the history of the U.S. that the draft was actually used was during the Viet Nam conflict. However, the requirement for registration under Selective Service remains.
This requirement applies to Immigrants as well, including U.S. Residents (Green Card holders), Refugees, Asylees, Special Agricultural workers, and under recent policy changes in the past few years, even to undocumented foreign nationals who are in the U.S. in one of these categories between the ages of 18 and 25. The Selective Service registration requirement does not apply to nonimmigrants in a temporary status in the U.S. such as, diplomats, tourists, H1B workers, J-1 visitors, students, etc.
Failure to register for Selective Service has serious consequences for U.S. Citizens and immigrants as well. U.S. Citizens can be denied certain federal benefits including federal employment, while immigrant have an additional penalty which can result in denial of U.S. Citizenship.
During the Naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen, U.S. Resident men who immigrated to the U.S. or were in one of the above categories during the ages of 18 to 25 must prove that they registered for Selective Service. Failure to register can result in denial of U.S. Citizenship if the U.S. Resident makes the Naturalization application within five years of the failure (age 30), although there are exceptions applied for those who can show that they did not “knowingly and willingly” fail to register. Naturalization applications after age 30 will generally not be denied solely due to failure to register, however applicants will often be asked to explain why they failed to register and should be prepared to give a reasonable explanation.
You can find out more about Selective Service registration:
Visit the USCIS Naturalization Calculator:
Check out the newest version of Form N-565: