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This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen

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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2014  
For questions about U.S. Residency, Green Cards and Immigration Visas, Visit our Website at: or  call our office at: (954) 382-5378

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Questions & Answers

President’s State of the Union - Immigration Reform A Top Priority in 2014
As expected, Immigration Reform was high on the President’s list during his recent State of the Union address, as he laid out his top priorities for 2014. And while noting that he expects the House of Representatives to move forward on immigration reform, the President also made it clear that he is prepared to use his Presidential Executive authority to push a range of initiatives forward, in the absence of Congressional action. 

The President said: “Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”
Question: Hi! I have a visa with an unexpired I-94 and I just got married with a permanent resident. If my wife applies for me, how long should it take to get my green card in the U.S.?
Answer: ​ U.S. Permanent Resident can file to sponsor a foreign spouse who is either inside or outside the U.S.. However, once the spousal immigration petition is filed, spouses who are inside the U.S. cannot legally wait inside the U.S. to receive a Green Card, unless they are here on an F-1 or some other legal visa which allows them to legally stay in the U.S.. Since you are married to a U.S. Resident and not a U.S. Citizen, once your I-94 card expires, you will no longer be eligible to obtain your Green Card. The Immigrant visa process right now for the spouse of a U.S. Resident is estimated at about 1 – 2 years. Therefore, you must either change to another visa so you can stay in the U.S. legally before the immigrant visa case is filed for you, or you must leave the U.S. and wait outside, then process for your Residency at the U.S. Consulate abroad.

U.S. Residents and Citizens can learn more about sponsoring Spouses by visiting our website at or by calling our office at: (954) 382-5378.
Helpful Immigration Hints You Can Use
Paying USCIS Filing Fees With Money Orders
Immigration How To – How Do I……. 
Get the USCIS To Resend My Receipt ????
A common problem experienced by many immigrants who file applications with the USCIS is that even though the application was received and filed (and the check was cashed), the receipt is never issued or is sent to the wrong address. This can be very inconvenient and irritating! Therefore, here is some advice which should help you track down the case number and assist you in getting a copy of the receipt. The money order or check which was cashed by the USCIS has your case number written on it.

However, a very common problem then is getting a copy of the money order. Because of this, it is usually easier to get a copy of a money order issued by your bank (i.e., Wells Fargo, Bank of America, etc.), rather than a convenience store or similar store, which takes a lot of time and annoyance. Banks are usually quick. Once you have the case number, call the USCIS 800# and let the operator know that you have not received the USCIS receipts and request that they resend them.
This comes at a particularly opportune time, when the House Republican Leadership itself considers Immigration Reform to be an important issue to be dealt with in 2014. To that end, House Speaker Boehner is rallying his members to get behind the party’s Immigration “Principals” in an effort to tackle Immigration Reform in a series of small Bills which would include overhauling the current Immigration laws and providing legal status to millions of undocumented Immigrants currently inside the U.S. without legal Immigration status. Dreamers brought to the U.S. by their parents illegally as young children may be offered an expedited a path to citizenship.

But even with the support of Leaders in both Parties, getting Immigration Reform passed by the House will likely still be an uphill battle and the cause of major internal “infighting” within the Republican Party between its moderate and conservative members. However, with growing pressure on House Republican’s from big business, the American Chamber of Commerce and Religious leaders across the country, that Immigration Reform is good for the security of the nation, our economy and a moral imperative - there remains good cause for optimism…stay tuned. 
It is always safer to use Money Orders, since money orders are like cash and there is certainty that whenever the USCIS deposits the money order, the funds will be available. And remember to keep a copy of each Money Order sent with your forms. Then, if for any reason you do not receive a USCIS receipt for one of the forms you filed within 30 days, be sure to go to the bank where you purchased the Money Order and get a copy of the “Cancelled” Money Order which will have your Case number typed in on the back, starting with MSC. This is in contrast to money orders purchased at convenience and other type stores, where it can take much longer to receive a copy in order to determine your USCIS case number. Good luck!

USCIS Announces Upcoming South Florida Naturalization “Swearing-in” Ceremonies

Miami Field Office – February 7, 14, and 21  
Hialeah Field Office – February 21, and 28  
Oakland Park Field Office – February 14, 21, and 28
Kendall Field Office - February 14 and 28  
Family immigration applications filed with the USCIS are best sent with Money Orders purchased at your local bank, rather than at a convenience store. Although the USCIS accepts all types of money orders and personal checks, there are ways to be proactive when filing such important applications to avoid any problem issues. With personal checks, if a calculation mistake is made in an individuals personal bank account (happens to all of us!) and the check does not clear, the USCIS could suspend processing of the application until a Money Order is received along with an additional $30 fee. When that happens the USCIS can suspend case processing until the filing and return check penalty fees are paid. However, if you do use your personal check, be sure checks are properly completed including signature, correct date, type of form applied for in the memo section and that they are made payable to “US Department of Homeland Security”. 
Republicans Release Their “Principles” 
of Immigration Reform
As expected, House Republican leaders released there long-awaited immigration reform principles last Thursday, representing a “blueprint” of broad measures which the they propose to overhaul our current Immigration system.

The short release addresses six “Principles” which the Republican Leadership believes are essential to fixing America’s broken Immigration system: 1) Border Security and Interior Enforcement Must Come First 2) Implement Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System 3) Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement, 4) Reforms to the Legal Immigration System, 5)Youth and 6) Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law.

Principales 1) through 3) deal with border security, visa tracking and employment eligibility verification. 
Principle 4) Reforms to the Legal Immigration System - is meant to reform our current Immigration laws which give priority to Family sponsorship over Employment-based Immigration, likely reducing the number of available visas for family members per year, limiting the age of adult children able to be sponsored by U.S. Citizen Parents, eliminating the F4 category for Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens, and ending the yearly Visa Lottery. Instead, more focus would be put on highly skilled foreign workers, as well as temporary worker visas. Principle 5) Youth - for so-called Dreamers (undocumented young Immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age by parents) may be given immediate Green Cards (after meeting eligibility requirements like a college degree or military service and then U.S. Citizenship.
As anticipated, Principle 6) Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law, is of course the most contentious section, dealing with “Legalization” of Immigrants inside the U.S. with no legal Immigration status. While not granting a "special path to citizenship," the principle suggests that Legalized Immigrants will be able to obtain a legal status which would allow them to “live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits)." The Senate Immigration Bill calls this status “Registered Provision Immigrant” (RPI) allowing Immigrants granted RPI’s to be issued Work Permits, Social Security cards, Driver’s Licenses and travel permit, similar to that of Green Card holders.
Having taken such a heavy hit from Republicans in past years on Immigration Reform, many Democrats are now expressing a more flexible attitude and willingness to agree to a Reform which does not explicitly provide a “special” pathway to citizenship and instead rely on existing mechanisms in the law which already provide Immigrants’ opportunities to obtain Green Cards and eventual Citizenship through Employment and Family sponsorship. Sen. Chuck Schumer sounded optimistic about the Principals, telling reporters “While these standards are certainly not everything we would agree with, they leave a real possibility that Democrats and Republicans, in both the House and Senate, can in some way come together and pass immigration reform that both sides can accept,…It is a long, hard road but the door is open.”. Stay tuned…

Read the full Text of Republican Immigration Principles