Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: February 3,  2020
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2020 
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

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
Question: I am filing my wifes immigration papers and I want to use my debit card. So first off, can I use it or does it have to be a real credit card? Second, can I pay the whole fee of $1760 which includes the fingerprint fee all together or how else can I do that? I get paid on Fridays and sometimes we have to pay bills and there is not much money left in the account. What happens if I don’t have the money in my account at the time immigration runs the payment, will someone call us and let us know so can make a deposit? Thanks again for your advice.
Immigration How To:
How Do I Prepare For My Immigrant Visa Appointment?
Supreme Court Allows Trump To Enact His Public Charge Rule - Time To File Your Application Now!
As many experts predicted, the conservative majority held Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Trump administration’s emergency request to allow the controversial “public charge” rule to be enacted. The measure will officially go into effect on February 24, 2020 in all states except Illinois. Under the new rule, officials will be able to deny green cards and other immigration benefits to those who have or are deemed likely to use public assistance program in the future. 

USCIS announced that it will begin implementing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (“Final Rule”) for all applications received on or after that date. Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency and  Form I-945 Public Charge Bond are now available as well. Note that any applications received on or after the effective date which are not on the new forms will be rejected. 
Answer: Yes, you can use credit, debit and even gift cards to make USCIS Filing Fees payments! When immigration applications are filed with the USCIS using the G-1450 credit card authorization form, a separate G-1450 form must be completed and signed for each application, which requires a filing fee. For instance, in a regular adjustment of status residency case like that for your wife, USCIS filing fees are due for the form I-130 and form I-485 (which includes the I-765, I-131 and biometrics fees). The total is $1,760 when you are sending a check/cashier’s check or money order. But when you are paying using the credit card form, you have to pay for the I-130 ($535) and I-485 ($1,225) separately. So, make sure and properly complete, sign and date the two separate forms, one for $535 and one for $1,225. Note that you MUST have the funds in your account at the time the USCIS processes your payment, which can take a week or so from the time you file your case. If you do not have the funds, the USCIS will send your entire package back with a rejection notice and instructions on resubmission with the correct filing fees. Remember to always make a copy of the entire application package before you send it and use USPS priority or express mail, Fed-ex, DHS or UPS, do not use CERTIFIED MAIL!. After that, you should receive your receipts in about 10 days
Tips On Preparing For New Public Charge Requirements Once They Take Effect - Here’s How!
For those who are not able to file applications before the February 24, 2020 deadline, now is a good time to start preparing for the new requirements. On that date, all residency cases, change/extension of status and certain work visa applications will require the submission of the new Public Charge form I-944 Declaration of Self Sufficiency

For those abroad going through the U.S. Consulate, use form DS–5540 Public Charge Questionnaire
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Beware – Even Old Criminal Convictions Can Still Result In Deportation!

The common belief among many Residents (green card holders) is that old criminal convictions that occurred many years ago no longer matter and they will not affect his or her immigration status. However, in reality, this is far from true and this misunderstanding often leads to Residents being taken into ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) custody, detained and in some cases, deported, over seemingly insignificant past crimes. Criminal Immigration attorneys warn Residents with criminal backgrounds to take certain precautions to avoid having the USCIS revoke their green card for convictions which occurred after the green card was obtained and ways to safeguard against being taken into custody as part of Trumps aggressive Immigration enforcement policies.
The Family immigration process often takes many years and finally, once an Immigrant Visa becomes available, the National Visa Center and U.S. Consulate begin final processing, ending in the immigrant visa consular interview appointment. 

This can be very intimidating and stressful, but is the final necessary step to immigrating to the U.S. Here are a few tips to keep in mind in order to help you be prepared, and hopefully more relaxed, for your immigrant appointment:
Question: My son just got his citizenship and wants to sponsor me. My question is if I get married to my girlfriend now, can I put her and my 10 years old stepson on the papers so they can come to the US under my visa at the same time?
Answer: Unfortunately, Parents of U.S. Citizens, are in a special immigration category called “Immediate Relatives”, which does not allow for any dependent (Spouse and children) to immigrate with the Parent to the U.S.. Immediate Relatives can only immigrate as individuals, not as a family. In order for the spouse of a Parent to be able to immigrate, you will need to complete the process yourself, immigrate to the U.S. and then immediately file to sponsor your new wife and step-son. Right now there is no waiting line for a visa in the F2A Immigration category for spouses and minor children of U.S. Residents, so the process only  takes about 12-14 months, however, that immigration category is likely to get backlogged, which usually means it will take about 2 years. So have your son to sponsor you asap so you can get your green card quickly and sponsor your family!
Question: I came up here to the US back in 2004. My dad became an American in 2007 and filed my papers for me and my husband the same year. We got a letter from the visa center a few months ago saying to create an account and we did and saw we have to pay fees to continue the process. The thing is that we have been here in florida since 2004 and our visas expired. My dad thinks I should pay the fees to be able to get our green cards but my husband thinks we cant get it because we are still here in the USA. My question is whether we should pay the fees and will that get us our green card or do we have to go back to Jamaica to go through our process there? 
Answer:  Unfortunately, under current law, unless you and your husband were inside the U.S. by December 2000 and your mother filed the I-130 Family Petition for you before April 30th of 2001 (245i eligible), you cannot obtain your Green Card in the U.S. since you are not in legal immigration status. Similarly, now that the time has come to immigrate (your Priority Date is current in the F3 immigration category for married children of U.S. Citizens), if you leave the U.S., you will be denied your immigrant visa at the Consulate and “barred” from re-entering the U.S. for ten years, since you have been in the U.S. out of legal status for over a year. Its important to know that I-130 petitions filed by relatives do not provide any immigration or employment benefits for immigrant family members. If you pay the National Visa Center fees, your money will be wasted and you will not be able to get a refund. For now, you and millions of other Immigrant currently in the U.S. without legal immigration status will need to hope we can get rid of Trump in 2020 and get Congress to act on Immigration Reform. I hope that was helpful to you.
The best advice is not to wait until the last minute and to give plenty of time for your application to be received by the USCIS before the deadline. Since the 24th falls on a Monday, and USCIS does not accept deliveries on Saturday or Sunday, its best to plan for your application to be delivered no later than Thursday, February 20th, to account for any unexpected shipping delays. Always send your package using overnight or next day shipping through USPS, UPS, DHL or Fed-ex and never, ever, use certified mail!

Read the USCIS Public Charge Announcement
Washington Post

The USCIS has posted the other revised forms which will be required under the new Public Charge rule, including:
Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker 
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status 
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA 
Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member 
Form I-864EZ, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act 
Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and I-539A, Supplemental Information for Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status 
Policy Manual Update
The form and instructions require applicants to list information, including the following: Household income, tax, assets, debts, credit scores, educational degrees, occupational skills and licenses held, health insurance information and English proficiency skills and provide copies of all documents relating to those items. For instance, applicants must provide documents to prove household income, copies of tax returns filed (if applicable), copies of assets, i.e. savings/checking/investment statements, deeds to real estate, automobile title and any other assets listed. The rule now requires that applicants provide a credit report, even if they do not have a social security number. Further, those with a low or no score must explain and provide other proof of payment of debts (for instance payment statements for utilities, cell phone, etc.)

Additionally, copies of high school diplomas and college degrees are required and must be accompanied by a U.S. equivalency evaluation from an authorized Credential Evaluation Service. To demonstrate English proficiency, applicants should also include certificates/degrees for English language studies to help increase favorability scores.Further, those who have non-subsidized health insurance must list the health insurance plan and dates of coverage.

To prepare, here are a few things you can start doing right now:


Make a list of all your assets (real estate, savings, checking, investments), along with the value of each. Then get together copies of your statements for the past several month for each account and locate a copy of titles to any automobiles or real estate you may have. To get a value of your automobile, you can take it to Carmax and they will give you a free written appraisal. For your real estate, find your most recent property tax bill and it will give a value. You can usually obtain a higher value on real estate by getting a formal appraisal done, but this can cost several hundred dollars or more. Finally, for debts on any of your assets including your automobile and real estate, get together your past payment statements or other documents, which show the current debt and balance due.
**Ideas to increase your favorability score: Have your spouse or other relative add your name to the title of bank accounts (savings/checking, investments), automobiles and real estate.

Credit Report:

Contact one of the three main credit agencies and request a free credit report.  Gather together any bills or statements for utilities or other debts that you regularly pay (for past six months) in order to show regular payments of debts, including those for rent. 
 **Ideas to increase your favorability score: You may be able to establish credit by obtaining a secured credit card, meaning you deposit funds with the credit company, then use the card and make your monthly payment. Apply For A Secured Credit Card 

Diplomas/Degrees/Occupational Licenses/Certifications:

Obtain copies of your high school diploma and any college degrees, licenses and certification courses you may have taken abroad. Once you have them, get a U.S. equivalency evaluation done from an authorized Credential Evaluation Service
**Ideas to increase your favorability score: Provide a job offer letter which details a specific job position, along with wage or salary you will receive once you have your work permit.

English Proficiency:

For those whose native language is not English, you can improve your favorability score even further, by demonstrating that you have English language skills which make you more likely to get a job and support yourself. To prove your proficiency, obtain copies of your school transcripts/courses, certificates/diplomas from the U.S. or abroad, showing that you have taken and passed English courses or that you are currently enrolled. 
**Ideas to increase your favorability score: You can enroll in English studies now! There are many English language classes available in every city. Make sure and get a copy of your enrollment documents to provide the USCIS. 

Private Health Insurance:

You can substantially increase your favorability score by providing proof that you have private healthcare insurance with includes coverage for emergency and major medical expenses. This coverage only qualifies if it is not subsidized by the government or through Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). There are many policies available to non residents which will meet the qualifications. 
**Ideas to increase your favorability score. Don’t wait, you can enroll in private health insurance coverage now! 

USCIS Fee Waivers:

Don’t apply for Fee Waivers! This will substantially lower your favorability score, as will any applications you made for such waivers in the past.

These are just a few of the steps you can take now to get prepared once the rule takes effect. However, the ultimate solution would be to file your application now, before the February 24th deadline.

You can find out more about the Public Charge rule by calling our office at: 954-382-5378

Don’t Be Fooled By IRS Tax Scams
Advisory About Phone Scams and Tax Identity Theft

Many immigrants will be filing their 2019 IRS Tax Returns this season from now until the deadline on April 15th. And with all the immigration scams going around, its important to know and avoid an ever growing tax scheme targeting immigrants. The USCIS Public Engagement Division wants Immigrants to beware of tax phone scams and reminds everyone 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.

If you get a call like this, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484. You can find out more about IRS Tax Scams by visiting our website at: and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter.

Watch A Video About Scams
Visit the IRS Tax Scam Website
USCIS Scam Advisory

One of the most common ways that a Resident with a criminal background finds themselves in Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody is when they travel internationally and then re-enter the U.S. only to find that they face interrogation and possible detention and deportation due to a past criminal conviction, no matter how many years ago it occurred. Another common way that a Resident can be taken into Immigration custody is after an even minor traffic offense for which they were arrested. Finally, Residents with a criminal background who file for Naturalization can be referred to Immigration Court and not only be denied U.S. Citizenship, but lose their Green Card and be deported as well

To avoid these nasty consequences, Residents with criminal conviction(s), no matter how “small”, should consult with an experienced criminal immigration lawyer before traveling internationally and before filing for Naturalization. Those who do not plan on international travel or filing for Naturalization should also schedule a consult to have the lawyer review their criminal record and provide advice about any possible future risks and/or steps that can be taken to clear up any potential negative Immigration effects of criminal convictions, including getting a criminal case reopened and dismissed. This does not include getting a criminal case “expunged” which does not make it disappear for Immigration purposes and may only make it more difficult to provide required documentation in a future immigration case.
Read Your Appointment Letter carefully/Gather Civil Documents: make sure that you completely review the appointment letter, schedule and attend your required medical examination and gather the ORIGINAL Civil documents listed on your notice. In most cases, you are required to bring your passport which must be valid for at least six months beyond your intended entry date to the U.S. and provide ORIGINAL or certified copies of your birth and marriage certificate, divorce decrees, police certificate, military certificate (if applicable), death certificate for spouses, criminal records for arrest and convictions (if applicable), even if the charge was dismissed, expunged or sealed. It’s also good to bring updated financial documents from the financial sponsor, for instance their current tax return and W-2 and copies of their paystubs for the past several months. For marriage cases, you’ll need to provide additional evidence to prove the validity of the marriage, including as many photos of you and your spouse with family and be prepare to answer extensive questions about the history of your relationship, your spouse’s family, job, ex-spouses, children, etc.  

Medical Examination: Make sure that you schedule your medical examination way in advance of your consular appointment date, in order to give enough time for the results to be ready for your interview. The appointment notice will give you complete instructions on which doctors are authorized by the Consulate to perform the required exam. If possible, take a copy of your vaccination records to your exam for the doctor to review to avoid being given duplicate vaccines and avoid drinking alcohol for several weeks prior to your exam if possible. Substances such as marijuana should be avoided for many months prior to the exam. Blood test results which are positive for drugs can result in a permanent denial of an immigrant visa.

Appointment Application & Confirmation: At the time of your appointment, make sure you print out and have your appointment letter and appointment registration confirmation with you when you go to the U.S. Consulate. You might be wise to review your DS260 immigrant visa application you submitted online, just to refresh your memory about the information you provided for past addresses, employment, and travel history and family relationships.

Security at the Consulate: Increasingly, U.S. Embassies maintain very strict security measures, which prohibit you from bringing certain items to with you to your appointment. Most Embassies now do not allow you to bring cell phones, tablets, computers and any other electronic devices, luggage, weapons and objects such as pen knives which can be used as a weapon. 

If you have questions about the process or which documents you are required to provide for your specific case, make sure and consult a qualified immigration attorney before proceeding.