Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: March 23,  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
Immigration How To:
How Do I Find Out If I Got An Alien Registration Number When I Filed My Old Case?
Visitors Should Leave The U.S. Or File 
Extensions of Stay To Avoid Overstaying Visa Status! 
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Question: I have been listening to all these things in the news and hearing about the immigration closing all its offices and I am worried that my citizen wife cant file for my green card. I came here in nov last year on a visitor visa and I don’t have to go back until may, but we decided for me to stay and file for my green card. Now that the immigration is closed how can we do that? What will happen to my status? 
Answer: Good question. It’s important to understand that for now, only the local USCIS Field Offices are closed, not the regional Service Centers, like the National Benefits Center which processes most family sponsored residency cases. However, this does not mean that they will remain open, so it would be best to file all family sponsored immigration cases immediately! If the National Benefits Center does close or reduce services, once your case is filed, you are legal to stay in the U.S. as long as it takes to process your residency case and issue your green card. Let us know if you want us to expedite filing your residency case. Give us a call at: 954-382-5378. 
Seems like the world has gone crazy in the past several weeks and we are all living in one of those apocalyptic movies, which are so popular on Netflix. However, the reality has hit home for nearly everyone in the world, leaving us all with more questions than answers. 

For most visitors who arrived in the U.S. for tourism or business before the current crisis, travel restrictions and advisories change daily, leaving many to wonder whether to leave the U.S. now or risk trying to stay until the pandemic passes. 
You can obtain a copy of your previous immigration applications and find out whether you have been assigned an Alien Registration Number through the filing of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request 

Many times when you are completing immigration forms, the instructions request your Alien Registration Number, also known as you’re a#. And while it’s always good to have copies of all your documents, in reality, most immigrants don’t make a copy before filing an application with the USCIS and often don’t keep copies of receipts or other documents they have received during the course of an immigration case. 
Applications To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status 
Now Require New Public Charge Form

Under Trump’s Public Charge rule which began on February 24, 2020, all Form I-539, Applications to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status must include the new Public Charge form I-944 to prove that the applicant and family members did not apply for public assistance in the past and will not need it in the future. Applications to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status which are not accompanied by form I-944 will likely be rejected. Also, all family members (called “co-applicants”) included on the primary applicant’s Form I-539 must pay an $85 biometric services fee and attend scheduled biometrics once the case is filed and USCIS Field Offices are up and running again.
U.S. Consulates Worldwide Suspend Routine 
Visa Services Due To Coronavirus Pandemic
On March 19th, the State Department issued an advisory to U.S. Citizens abroad to return to the U.S. immediately, or risk being unable to re-enter the U.S. for an “indefinite” period of time. This comes on the heels of a proclamation by Trump earlier in the month to limit travel to the U.S. by foreign nationals of many countries.

This also applies to U.S. Residents, immigrants who are in the residency process who have travel permits, called Advance Parole (which allow them to travel abroad and return to the U.S.), non-immigrants with visas, such as an F-1 for Students, H-1B, etc and others. Under the current global emergency caused by the Coronovirus, those who travel abroad at this time should not expect to be readmitted to the U.S., even with a valid travel permit or U.S. visa. This includes asylees with Refugee Travel Documents as well. The best advice for those with travel plans is to cancel or reschedule and safely remain in the U.S. until the crisis passes, no matter how long that takes.
B1/B2 Tourist and Business visitors usually receive a six month period of time to stay in the U.S.. Extensions of stay and change of status requests are allowed, but not guaranteed under strict Trump administration policies. So what are the risks and benefits for those who want to remain in the U.S.? Under a pre-pandemic extension of stay and change of status, processing times could take six months or more for a decision to be issued on an I-539 application. Even under those normal processing times, many visitors did not receive a decision on the request until after their six month period had expired, making filing such a request risky, even under normal USCIS processing. Once an application is filed, if the request is approved, the visitor can remain in the U.S. for the new authorized period or be issued a new immigration status based upon a change of status request to the new visa, for instance an F-1 student visa. If the request is denied and the I-94 has expired by the time of the “decision”, the individual’s U.S. visa is automatically cancelled and once they leave the U.S., they will no longer be eligible to return without first obtaining a new visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad. 

Does the current Coronavirus emergency give visitors any special exemptions to allow them to be forgiven for over-staying? No, likely not, since given Trump’s hostility towards “foreigners”, the administration would much rather have visitors leave, than stay. However, those who have already made a decision to remain in the U.S. no matter what, should file to extend status, in order to avoid falling into unlawful status. That means extensions of stay should be filed under the new guidelines, under the Public Charge requirements, and applicants should understand that the processing time will likely exceed 6 to 12 months. This is preferable to simply overstaying, since that would guarantee automatic loss of the U.S. Visa. Filing for an extension at least gives visitors an opportunity for a chance to remain in legal status until other opportunities arise. Visitors who are in the U.S. on ESTA (visa waiver) are authorized to stay for 90 days and not generally allowed to request an extension of stay. The law allows for emergency requests for up to 30 days, but given the fact that local USCIS are closed, filing such a request will be nearly impossible. Stay safe, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. So in these times of great uncertainty, do not let your immigration status be another worry on your mind! 

We are open and ready to answer all your Immigration questions ! Call now for a free consultation to discuss filing for an extension of stay or change of status at: 954-382-5378.

**** Warning **** 
Those Who Travel Abroad May Not Be Allowed To Return To The U.S.
As the Coronavirus increasingly threatens every country in the world, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced the suspension of most visa services world-wide, beginning March 20th. Visa services which are suspended, include those for routine nonimmigrant and immigrant visas until further notice. 

Those who require emergency services are advised to visit the U.S. Embassy websites to request an emergency appointment, if available. Those with scheduled appointments should not travel to the consulate, as all appointments have been automatically cancelled and will be rescheduled once they reopen. Consular appointment payments, called Machine Readable Visa (MRV) fees will remain valid for visa appointments in the country where purchased for up to one year of the date of payment. 

State Department closure announcement 

​Find a U.S. Embassy Near You
Don’t take any chances, if you have any questions about travelling abroad, 
call our office for a free consultation at: 954-382-5378. 
In light of the national Coronavirus pandemic, the USCIS announced the immediate and temporary suspension of premium processing service for all Form I-129 (includes 2021 Cap subject petitions) and I-140 petitions, including renewals until further notice effective March 20th. No new Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service will be accepted. However, the agency will process any petition filed Request for Premium Processing Service. Premium Processing is a service which requires an additional fee for USCIS processing of forms I-129 and I-140 in 15 days. 
This service was not available for any other type of immigration related application, including those for family sponsored immigration. The temporary suspension includes petitions filed for the following immigration forms categories: "I-129: E-1, E-2, H-1B, H-2B, H-3, L-1A, L-1B, LZ, O-1, O-2, P-1, P-1S, P-2, P-2S, P-3, P-3S, Q-1, R-1, TN-1, TN-2, I-140: EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3. 

USCIS Premium Processing Service suspension announcement 
Premium Processing Service Cancelled For 
All Immigration Applications Effective Immediately
Question: Hi, I had my husband file for my residency in early march, now I got the letter from immigration to go down and get my fingerprints. I saw where you said last week that they was cancelled but I just got mine after that. Does that mean I still have to go? Or does the cancellation only apply to appointments before that?
Answer: Logically, when the USCIS announced that it had temporarily closed all Field Offices effective immediately on March 18, 2020, you would imagine that the agency would no longer be sending out Biometrics Appointment Notices. However, the in reality, the Biometrics Appointment Notices are issued from another facility and since the appointments were already in the computer data system, the notices were automatically sent out, even though all such appointments had already been automatically cancelled. So to answer your question, all local USCIS Field Offices are closed until at least April 1st. If your appointment is on April 1st or after, you may get a cancellation notice in the mail. However, many do not believe the agency will reopen USCIS Field Offices until May or later. So if you do not get a cancellation notice before your appointment date, go online and check the USCIS Coronavirus webpage to see if the Field Office near you is still closed or has reopened. You can also give our office a call and we can tell you whether the office is open or closed as well. 
USCIS Coronavirus webpage 
Question: I am a resident and left over 5 months ago to visit family in Colombia. I want to come back in before six months so I can still qualify to file my citizenship next year because I will have my green card for 5 years, but I am scheduled to come back in a few weeks to return to work, hopefully they will stay open, what if the airlines cancel the flight and I cant come back because of the virus will there be some kind of forgiveness?
Answer: The best advice is to return to the U.S. as soon as possible. You have two issues, one is the issue of “physical presence” in the U.S. in order to qualify for naturalization. The law says that a resident who remains outside the U.S. for 180 days or more is deemed to have broken the physical residence requirement and once they return to the U.S., must wait another four years and one day before they can qualify to apply for naturalization. The burden is on the resident to prove that he or she actually resided in the U.S. during the time he or she was abroad by showing documentation to prove it, for instance paystubs, mortgage or apartment payments, utilities, etc. So returning on the 180th day or after would put the burden on you to show the officer that you actually resided in the U.S. while you were abroad during that period and could not return due to circumstances beyond your control (like the pandemic and inability to get a flight to the U.S.). The other issue is the possible closure of U.S. borders to all individuals, even U.S. citizens and residents at some point. On March 19th, the State Department issued an advisory to U.S. citizens abroad instructing them to return to the U.S. immediately, or risk being unable to re-enter the U.S. for an “indefinite” period of time. This includes you and if you wait several more weeks, you may not be able to re-enter the U.S. for many months. 
Filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with federal immigration authorities can assist you in obtaining a copy of your immigration history and your A# if you were ever assigned one. 

We can take care of filing a FOIA on your behalf and obtain a copy of your immigration history. 
Give us a call for a free consultation at: 954-382-5378.