Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: March 12,  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: My mother wants to become a US citizen, but she is elderly and is having problems studying for the test on her own. She lives in Coral Springs, do you know if there are any instruction courses she can take nearby to help her study?
Answer: Yes, just about every city and county offers U.S. Citizenship exam and literacy classes. Since she lives in Coral Springs, you can find one near her by visiting and clicking on the A - Z tab, then select “L” for literacy. Scroll down to find “Citizenship Classes”. You can find Citizenship classes nationally, by visiting our website at: and click on the Immigration Newsletter.

Find Citizenship classes
Beware - Fake Marriage Is a One Way Ticket To Green Card Heaven 
Or Deportation Hell!
Most immigrants know at least one person that got their residency (Green Card) through a fake marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Cuban national. What most do not know is that for every person who is successful, ten or more are not and end up getting deported. 

The most important thing to understand about obtaining a Green Card through marriage is that it is all or nothing! The Immigrant either receives conditional and then permanent residency or they don’t and are put in Removal proceedings. There are no other options. 
Immigration How To:
How Do I  Know If It’s a Scam?
The USCIS reminds Immigrants to be aware of immigration scams, including scammers who call or email Immigrants pretending to be a government official. USCIS notes that it will never ask for personal details or payment over the phone or in an email. 

The USCIS advises Immigrants to avoid becoming a victim of one if these scams by never responding to an email or call from a person pretending to be a government official or Immigration officer requesting payment. 
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
Tips For Green Card Holders Spending Prolonged Periods Outside The U.S. 
 Ten Tips For Filing Immigration Applications
Once an Immigrant files for adjustment of status through marriage and attends the interview, there is no escape from the process. If the couple does not do well at the interview, does not have many marital documents, lives with relatives, no joint bank accounts which show movement, etc, a follow-up interview is scheduled many months down the road. At this second interview, often the U.S. Citizen or Cuban national is taken in with the officer alone and requested to sign a paper that the marriage is fake, withdraw the petition and not to tell the Immigrant. The Immigrant later receives a denial in the mail and referral to Immigration court for removal from the U.S.. There are no options to marry another U.S. Citizen and obtain residency or to be sponsored by a relative or even employer – NOTHING.

If the couple passes the marriage interview and the Immigrant spouse is issued two year conditional residency, this is only the beginning. 90 days before the two year residency mark, the couple must file a petition to remove the conditions on residency (form I-751) to make it permanent and for that, the couple must provide EXTENSIVE documentation to prove that they continue to live together in a “bona fide” (real) marriage. In recent years, the USCIS has become very strict about marital documentation, requiring hundreds of documents showing joint tax returns, bank statements, car insurance, utilities, etc. Those who live with relatives, don’t have joint bank accounts and utilities and are unable to provide the required documents are scheduled for a second interview, sometimes referred to as a “fraud” interview, for an officer to interrogate the couple and determine whether the marriage is real. If the officer determines that the couple is genuinely in a continuing marital relationship, permanent residency is approved and as long as the couple continues as such, the Immigrant spouse can apply for early Naturalization, once he or she has held residency status for two years and nine months. Additional marital documents proving the couple continues to reside together are required at the Naturalization interview as well.

What happens if the couple breaks up before the marriage interview? In most cases now days, if the Immigrant spouse attends the interview alone the officer will deny the case and the Immigrant will be referred to Immigration court for removal from the U.S.. 

What if the couple breaks up after the Immigrant spouse receives two year conditional residency? In that case, the Immigrant can file the removal of conditions application requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement and submit EXTENSIVE documentation to prove the marriage was real, even though the couple is no longer together. In fake marriages, the couple never has much if any documents, so most of these cases are denied. Once the case is denied, the Immigrant is referred to Immigration court for removal from the U.S.. There are no options to marry another U.S. Citizen and obtain residency or to be sponsored by a relative or even employer. Once the USCIS denies a residency case based upon fraud, the door closes and there is no way to receive any legal status in the U.S. ever again.

But of course, removal proceedings take time, years in fact, so many Immigrants in the process go on with their lives, fall in love, get married and have kids, believing that they will be able to avoid deportation because they are now in a real relationship. However, immigration regulations specifically say otherwise and will not reward an Immigrant who engaged in a fake marriage previously, but who now has a genuine relationship and wants to use it to obtain residency again. It is very sad and tragic that families are broken up every day as part of this process. I would liken filing for residency based upon a fake marriage to taking heroin, once you do it, you can never go back. So don’t listen to well-meaning friends and family who say fake marriage is the best way to get a Green Card. Instead, just imagine that you will be taking your whole potential lifetime here in the U.S. full of hopes dreams and possibilities, walking into a casino and betting it all on one number. Feeling that lucky? 

1) Eligibility: Before filing any application with the USCIS make sure that you meet all the eligibility requirements. Under Trump’s immigration policies, filing an immigration application when you are not eligible, can get you deported. 

2) Use the correct form: Be sure you have the most current edition of the form. Never pay for forms, they are free. To download the current edition of each form, go to and click on the Forms link, then choose your form. 

3) Supporting Documents: Make sure and include all required documents so your case is not delayed. Read the Form Instructions and enclose copies of the required supporting documents listed. Never send originals!
4) Foreign Language Documents: All documents in a foreign language must be accompanied by an English translation and “Certificate of Translation” signed by the translator, attesting to the fact that they are fluent in the foreign language and English. Example: I [name of translator], certify that I am fluent in the English and [type in name of foreign language, for instance, Spanish] languages, and that the above is an accurate translation of the attached document. Have the translator sign, date and type in his or her address. Note that an Applicant, family member or anyone else can be the translator, you do not need a certified translator or any other special certification.

5) Copies: Make and keep copies of every page of your signed application, all supporting documents and check/money order for your records.

6) Filing Fees: Make sure the USCIS filing fee is correct. Go and click on the Forms link to see the current filing fee for each form. You can pay by check/money order or credit/debit card. You can use a personal check to pay the filing fees, just note that it can take 2+ months for the USCIS to deposit it, so make sure the funds are there, otherwise there is a $30 “insufficient funds” fee. If you use a Money Order, have it issued by your bank, rather than a convenience store or postal service, in case you need to get a copy of the cancelled check (to see your case number on the back-in case you don’t receive a USCIS receipt). If you pay by credit card, you have to download and complete form 1450 and place on the top of your application. 

7) Sending your application: Use USPS Priority Mail, Express Mail or Fed-ex/UPS with tracking. Be sure to get delivery confirmation a few days after you send your application, to confirm it was received and save the confirmation for your records. NEVER use Certified Mail, it is too slow.

8) Sign-up for E-Notification: Always file Form G-1145 with your application, to receive a text message or email e-notification confirming that the application was received and accepted for processing by the USCIS along with the case receipt number(s). 

9) Sign-up for E-Mail Case Updates: Once you receive your USCIS Receipt (called I-797 Notice of Action) – usually in about 10 days, go online to and click on “Check your case status” then sign-up for email updates on your case using your case number.

10) Check USCIS Processing Times: Go to and click on “Check your case status” then scroll down and click on “USCIS Processing Times Information” and click on the Service Center or office where your case is processing to see the current processing times for your application type. 


Paying USCIS Fees
Question: My son is 22 and just became a us citizen. He got his residency through my American husband who sponsored him many years ago. My ex-husband, my son’s biological father is in Trinidad and my son wants to sponsor him for his green card.  My question is whether my son can sponsor his own father, since he gained his residency through his American step dad. Can you please clear this up for us so we can begin giving you the papers to file for his green card if that is possible and find out how long the process takes, thanks again for your help.
Answer: That is a great question. As long as a child is age 21 or older, he or she can sponsor biological parents (and qualifying step-parents) for residency, even though the U.S. Citizen child may have obtained U.S. residency through a U.S. Citizen step-parent. Parents of U.S. Citizens are considered as “immediate relatives” and there is no waiting line. When parents are outside the U.S., the process takes between 8-12 months to process and receive an immigrant visa. 
Concerns mount among U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) who plan to travel abroad, amid fears that they will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. and could have their Green Card taken away at the U.S. border. This comes after reports that Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) officers at airports and other borders have been requesting that Residents relinquish their cards and sign official I-407 forms to "voluntarily" abandoning their status as a "lawful permanent resident of the U.S.. 
Such actions by CBP officers requesting Green Card holders to voluntarily relinquish their U.S. Residency status is common, in circumstances where a Resident has been absent from the U.S. for a long period of time, including a year or more, or when the traveler otherwise gives information or statements which clearly indicate that he or she does not reside in the U.S.. However, recent events at airports have caused heightened alarm among many Residents so much so, that even in emergency circumstances like a death in the family, many fear traveling, even for a brief trip abroad.
U.S. Residents who really do live in the U.S. and who have not been travelling abroad for extended periods of time (180 consecutive days or more) recently, and who do not have any serious criminal convictions, should not fear travelling abroad and do not risk losing their Green Cards when they try to re-enter the U.S..

Here’s a few quick tips:

Take documents with you which show that you actually live in the U.S. like:

1) Paystubs for past several months 
2) current electric or other utility bill and 
3) copy of a current Lease or property Deed and 
4) current bank statements which show regular purchases and use of the bank account in U.S.. 

Note that items such as U.S. Driver’s License or tax return do not necessarily show that a Resident actually lives in the U.S., especially if the tax return shows foreign earned income and does not show employment in the U.S..

Never stay outside of the U.S. for more than 179 continuous days at one time, since a reentry to the U.S. after 180 days not only “resets” the clock for accrual of physical presence for Naturalization purposes, but it is also a potential red flag to the CBP officer that you may not actually reside in the U.S. and can lead to more serious questioning, which can sometimes lead to a request for you to voluntarily relinquish your Green Card.  

Understand your rights! You are not required to voluntarily relinquish your Green Card at the border and have the right to request a hearing before an immigration judge and you will be allowed to enter the U.S. to wait until that hearing. During the hearing, you have the burden of providing substantial documentary proof that you actually reside in the U.S. and that your absence from the U.S. was temporary. It’s always a good idea to have a qualified Immigration attorney to advise and assist you in understanding what kind of proof is required to present your best case to the Judge.

Finally, under the Trump administration, things are getting tighter at the airport inspections and other borders. U.S. Residents who do not now live in the U.S. should start making plans to either begin residing here for more periods of time during each year and start establishing documentary proof of residence, like having a lease, utilities, car, insurance, etc in your name. Remember that Residents are required to file U.S. tax returns as Residents and must report worldwide income (but not assets). It’s best to prepare now, rather than face losing your U.S. Residency because you were not better prepared. 

Once a Resident loses his or her Green Card, they cannot ever get the same one back, instead, they must start all over again. Sometimes that is possible if you are the parent or spouse of a U.S. Citizen, but in many cases, a Resident obtained their Green Card through a marriage that is now dissolved, or through parents that are now elderly or through siblings and may have to wait a decade or more once the process is started all over again. 

Warning Of Immigration Payment Scams Targeting Immigrants!
As part of one particular immigration scam, a fake Immigration official calls or emails an Immigrant saying that there is a problem with an application or additional information is required to continue the immigration process. They ask for personal and sensitive details, and demand payment to fix the problem. 

If you receive such a request and are not sure if it is a scam, forward the suspicious email The USCIS will review the emails received and share with law enforcement agencies. Visit the USCIS Avoid Scams Initiative 
 If you have a question about your immigration case, call the USCIS at 800-375-5283 or make an InfoPass appointment