Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: March 9,  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  Can I Find Out More About The New Immigration Bond “Public Charge” Requirement
USCIS Announces New Online Tip Form 
To Report Immigration Fraud
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Question: I have a question about my green card extension. My conditional green card expired in February 2020. Me and my husband I filed the I-751 application to remove conditions in December 2019. I received a letter from the immigration confirming they got my application and fee. The problem is that since my Green Card is expired, I cannot go to Jamaica to attend my cousin’s wedding in April. Do you know what I should do now, is there a travel permit I can get?
Answer: Good question. The I-797 receipt you received from the USCIS Service Center includes language on it stating that it is evidence of your continued legal residence and extends your work authorization and travel for an 18 month period, so from February 2020 to August 2021. Theoretically, you may use the letter to re-enter the U.S. after foreign travel, by simply taking the I-797 receipt with you when you travel and it will get you back into the US. However, if you lose the receipt you could have difficulties and in practice, some airlines and countries do not recognize the extension and it can become complicated. As a result, it always best to get an extension sticker on your green card. You can get the sticker by calling the USCIS at: 1 (800) 375-5283, give the operator your I-751 case number and identifying information and they will call you back with an appointment date for you to go to your local USCIS office to get the sticker. However, it can take a few weeks to get the appointment, so don’t delay, call them as soon as you can.
As part of its continuing war on immigrants, the Trump administration recently launched a new online-based tip form which can be used by the public to report suspected immigration  fraud and abuse and help in prosecuting immigration fraud. 

And while the purported reason for the tip form is to safeguard the integrity of the immigration system and make it easier for the public to report suspected abuses, in practice, this forum will likely be used by individuals seeking revenge and is just another way to threaten and intimidate immigrants. Moreover, the USCIS tip form allows those who report to remain anonymous, which will lead to even more frivolous reports made against many innocent immigrants. 
Many individuals world-wide dream of living in America and owning their own U.S. business. However most immigrants have little knowledge of how to make their dreams possible. There are several visa options available including investing over a million dollars (through the EB-5 green card program) or transferring from a company abroad to a U.S. subsidiary (through the L visa), but most are unaware of the most convenient and cost efficient option, called the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.

The E-2 is the perfect choice for many foreign investors who want to open a new business or buy an existing one in the U.S.. 
Living The American Dream - Owning And Operating 
Your Own Business With The E-2 Investor Visa 
Now that the Trump administration has implemented the new “Public Charge” rule, many immigrants may no longer qualify for residency under the new policy and instead, may be required to post a bond. The same will be true for nonimmigrants, including those seeking to extend student, work or visitor visas in the U.S.. Under the new restrictions, the government will now require many individuals who are determined to be at risk to become a “Public Charge” to post a bond in order to guarantee that they will not obtain government assistance in the future. The bond requirement will be mandatory until the immigrant has been a U.S. Resident for five years, naturalized, surrendered residency, died or for non-immigrants, have permanently departed the U.S..
USCIS announcement of the online Form for Reporting Fraud
Tip Form
For qualifying investors, the E-2 is a low cost alternative to other investment type visas, and it allows both the Investor and their immediate family members to live, work and attend school in the U.S., while operating their own business. Another great benefit is that spouses can obtain work authorization. 

A successful E-2 visa can be approved from two up to five years (perpetually renewable) by investing around $100,000 or more in a U.S. business. A wide range of business types qualify under the E-2, including start-up, franchises and existing businesses. One of the only few requirements is that the business enterprise must be operated from a commercial location (not a home) and it must create new jobs for U.S. workers (not just for the investor and his or her family) or preserve the jobs of existing U.S. employees. However, not all business types qualify, specifically because some investments, like those in real estate do not generate jobs. To qualify, an investor must be a national of one of the treaty countries on the State Department list that has an E-2 treaty with the U.S.. Dual nationality qualifies as well, for instance, where a national of Venezuela would not qualify, but if he or she holds a Spanish or Italian passport as well, would. 

Countries which quality under the E-2 Treaty Trader Visa:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
China (Taiwan)
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Denmark (excluding Greenland)
South Korea
New Zealand
Singapore Slovak Republic
Sri Lanka
Trinidad & Tobago
United Kingdom
Understanding The Important Of Keeping Copies Of All 
Immigration Documents And Correspondence!
Immigration application forms are very comprehensive, requiring large amounts of data and historical information, which are often not available in one single source document. As a result, Immigrants and sponsors often spend many hours gathering documents, obtaining information from relatives and looking up dates and relevant information in order to properly complete the forms. Personal data, dates, addresses, pertinent documents like an I-94 Arrival/Departure card and other official paperwork are often gathered together during the application process, then sent out to the USCIS along with the application without any thought. 

I would estimate from my experience that 70-80% of applicants have no copies or records of the immigration forms and documents which were filed with the USCIS. And what many do not realize is that once the application and supporting documents are provided to the USCIS, they create an immigration file record of information about the individuals included in the application which are no longer accessible to the filer once the case is filed. 
As a result, requests for more evidence or information issued by the USCIS in a case may be very difficult to respond to, without proper reference to the information on the application forms and documents originally sent to the USCIS as part of the application. Couple this with the fact that many immigration applications remain pending for several years or more before the USCIS actually reviews the file and makes a request. Typically, by that time, in many cases, the information and documents used to complete the forms has long since been misplaced or destroyed, often making it very difficult if not impossible to determine what information was provided to the USCIS and what was not. 

Applicants receiving a USCIS request often say, “I already gave that to them”, but have no way to know for sure or to prove it. This can result in the same "wrong" document being provided to the USCIS in response to a request, which results in a denial of the entire application. This is especially tragic when an application for a family member may have been pending for many, many years. A simple example would be in the case of a U.S. Citizen parent sponsoring an adult, single child, where the immigrant visa waiting time is approximately 6+ years, and USCIS processing time to adjudicate the case is about five years from the date the case is filed. That means that when the USCIS finally gets around to taking the application from the waiting queue and reviewing it after it has been sitting there for some five years, the officer will determine whether the application is complete, or whether additional evidence is necessary for approval. Let’s say that when the original case was filed, the parent provided a copy of her daughter’s birth certificate which was an outdated, handwritten format, rather than the new formal computer-generated certificate issued by the Registration General department in Jamaica. 

The USCIS letter requests that the parent provide the appropriate birth certificate issued by Jamaica, but does not specify which one and does not precisely say that the parent provided an outdated birth certificate and needs to provide one in the new format. The parent does not have a copy of the application package she filed and as a result, believes that she must have left out the birth certificate and now sends in the same old version. Once she does, the USCIS officer denies her daughter’s case for failure to provide the requested document. In such cases having a copy of the entire application and documents originally submitted would have provided the parent with a clue that the USCIS was not accepting the birth certificate she provided and she would likely have investigated and become informed that the new computer-generated format was required. This would have avoided the misery and disappointment of the denial of her daughter’s case. This is just one example, but I could go on and on. Finally, when an immigration case hits a road block and you need to get the assistance of a qualified immigration attorney, so much time and effort can be saved if you have a copy of the entire application to provide to the attorney to review. Otherwise, the attorney will need to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain a copy of the application and supporting documents, which can often take many, many months to obtain. So follow this advice, once your immigration application is complete and you are ready to send it out, take the extra step of making a copy of every single page of the application and documents and even go the next step and make a scanned copy so that you can always have it on your computer in digital format.
Question: I have a question about sponsoring my daughter. I got my green card in 2011 and my American Citizenship in 2017. I filed for my 27 year old daughter in 2015 when I was still a Green Card holder. My daughter is now pregnant and plans to get married in June 2020. I want to know a few things: 1) Is the immigration case I filed for her when she was still single is good or will it be cancelled once she gets married? 2) will her husband the and baby be able to immigrate with her or do I need to file a whole new immigration case which includes them? What if she doesn’t get married now and waits until getting her green card? We are so confused about what to do now. Thanks for your help.
Answer: Don’t worry, the Immigration Family petition (I-130) you filed for your daughter in 2015 is still valid. When you filed the initial I-130 to sponsor your adult daughter, her case was in the F2B category for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Residents, which includes minor children under age 21 (waiting time about 5 ½ years). Once you became a U.S. Citizen in 2017, your daughter automatically moved to the F1 category for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens, which includes minor children under age 21 (waiting time about 6 ½ years). She also became free to marry and still use the same immigration petition, however once she marries, her immigration category will change from the F1 category to the F3 category for married sons & daughters of U.S. Citizens, which includes spouses & minor children under age 21 (waiting time now about 14+ years). 

Since you filed to sponsor your daughter in 2015, if she remains single, she would be eligible to immigrate along with her child in approximately two more years. Once she gets her green card, she can get married and sponsor her spouse. The process currently takes about 14 months for him to immigrate to the U.S.. However, if she marries now before she has a green card, it will take approximately eight more years before she will be able to immigrate to the U.S. along with her husband and child. I hope this is helpful to you.
Question: We have a problem I hope you can help with. My husband and I both got our permanent residency in 2016 through my parents after waiting many years and have been living here in the U.S. ever since. I got laid off my job in January and it’s been hard to find a job due to my age. I just got offered a good job in Trinidad and they wont let me work remotely and want me to move there. Now we are happy about the opportunity, but struggling about what to do so we don’t lose our green cards that we waited so many years to get. Do you have advice for us about what will happen to our green card status if we live in Trinidad for a few years while we try to get good jobs in the U.S. and move back?
Answer: This is a very important question, since it is all too common for individuals to jeopardize their green cards without realizing the risk. Since you plan to be out of the country for more than one year, you will need to obtain advance permission, called a “re-entry permit”. The re-entry permit will allow you to remain outside the U.S. for up to two years. If you are using a “re- entry permit”, make sure you return before expiration of the period of validity. And remember, any periods living outside the U.S. do not count towards your physical presence for the purposes of applying for U.S. citizenship. So if you stay out for six months or more, you may still have to restart the period of physical presence required for Naturalization. Importantly, you are not required to stay outside the U.S. for the two year period of the Re-entry Permit and can enter any time you want, however you won’t need to worry about risking your green card and long explanations to the border officer when coming back to the U.S.. Note that once you apply for the Re-entry Permit, you must stay in the U.S. to attend your Biometrics appointment, usually scheduled within 30 days after filing the application. Once you have completed your Biometrics, you can then leave the U.S. and remain abroad waiting for the Re-entry Permit approval, approximately 4+ months. Let us know if you would like us to take care of obtaining your Re-entry Permits.
Understanding How To Prepare For Your Residency And Naturalization Interview

These days, every immigrant applying for U.S. Residency (a Green Card) and Resident applying for Naturalization is required to have an interview at the local USCIS field office. And while the immigration benefits sought are different, many of the procedures are the same. During typical immigration interviews USCIS officers are required to accomplish certain objectives, which include a full review of the applicant’s eligibility, testimony from the applicant regarding their immigration history, review of information stated on the residency or naturalization application and review of original documents which each applicant is required to bring to his or her interview, depending upon the type of case.
In Naturalization, the Resident must additionally undergo civics and history questions, as well as demonstrate fluency in English and reading/writing. The serious nature of these official government processes and procedures can often be very stressful for the applicant, so here are a few simple preparations you can do to make the process go much smoother. 

1) Understand Your Eligibility: That seems obvious, but what does it really mean? How do you know if you are eligible? First, you must understand what the legal requirements are for the immigration benefit you are seeking. If you have been sponsored by a family member, you must be prepared to provide the officer with documents and information which prove your eligibility. For instance, one of the main requirements for most adjustment of status case is that the immigrant prove that they entered the U.S. legally and have a copy of the I-94 Arrival Departure card or printout to prove it. If not, with few exceptions (absent a waiver or 245(i) eligibility), the immigrant does not qualify for a green card in the U.S.. In cases where an immigrant did enter legally, most immigrants must also prove that they have continued to maintain legal immigration status in the U.S. until their residency case was filed, with the exception of Spouses, Parents and minor children of U.S. Citizens. For example, a U.S. Citizen parent sponsors her 22 year old daughter who came to the U.S. legally, but has overstayed for several years. In such a case the daughter is not eligible to obtain a green card in the U.S.. Similarly, the spouse of a Resident who has overstayed is also not eligible, until the Resident spouse becomes a U.S. Citizen. 

Residents applying for Naturalization should make sure that they meet the requirement of being a green card holder for at least four years and nine months before applying (or two years and nine months for spouses of U.S. Citizens), ensure that they have acquired enough time being physically inside the U.S. and  that they are not disqualified by certain criminal conduct within the past five years (three years for spouses of U.S. Citizens), delinquency on child support or IRS taxes and males between the years of 18 and 25 must have registered for selective service as required.

The issue of eligibility should always be determined before filing any immigration application, however, if any questions exist, applicants should seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney prior to attending any immigration interview.

2) Be Prepared! That means fully reviewing all the information on your application. It sounds simple, but in reality, so many applicants are surprised that they have to answer extensive questions about the information on the application, which causes more stress and anxiety. So review, review, review and be fully prepared to answer questions about your addresses (current and past) employment (current and past), spouses (current and former), children, previous visas, receipt of any public assistance and extensive questions about your immigration and criminal history. Immigrants should specifically review their form I-485 pages 10-14 and be ready to answer questions in this regard. Naturalization applicants will additionally be asked about any trips abroad, payment of child support for minor children, payment of IRS taxes and additional questions about their immigration/criminal history (see form N-400 pages 11-15). 

3) Bring the Required Documents:

RESIDENCY: Immigrants Should Bring Documents To The Residency Interview Including:

- Interview notice 
- current Passport & all prior Passports  
- I-94 card (if you entered the U.S. PRIOR TO 2013 otherwise “online I-94 printout”)
- Work Authorization card/Travel Permit
- current Driver’s License
- ORIGINAL Birth Certificate 
- ORIGINAL Marriage Certificate for current marriage (not for past marriages)
- ORIGINAL Divorce Decree for every marriage in the past
- ORIGINAL/CERTIFIED Criminal Documents for any criminal case of any kind, including traffic cases which required a court appearance. Criminal Documents must include: a) CERTIFIED Police Report or Traffic Ticket and b) CERTIFIED Court Disposition (you must bring both a & b to give to the officer at 
your interview)

****Marriage Cases also require additional extensive documentation to prove a “real marriage”

In Marriage Cases, additionally, every U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident sponsor should bring:
For marriage residency: U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident Spouse’s Original Divorce Decree for every marriage in the past, in addition to extensive marital documentation (see below)

- ORIGINAL or CERTIFIED Birth Certificate 
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or U.S. Residency (i.e. ORIGINAL Naturalization Certificate , US passport or Green Card
- Driver’s License
-While not required, it’s also helpful for the U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident to bring an updated tax return and W-2 for the current year since filing the residency case, a currently dated employer letter and current paystubs

Marriage residency cases are particularly complicated, since in addition to the above, the USCIS officer will expect the married couple to provide extensive documentation of their lives and financial affairs together, including:

- Photos of the Couple: Original Photos of pictures you have together, during the time you were dating, pictures of your wedding and all pictures you have taken since you married. Assemble photos in Photo Albums. As many as you can, the more the better. The officer will not look at digital photos on your cell phone or camera. Include at least 8 Original Photos of you as a couple together (Wedding, Holidays, etc) for the officer to keep in the USCIS file
-Tax Returns FOR ALL YEARS since you got married, showing “married filing jointly” AND W-2’S for Both spouses;
-Joint Bank accounts statements showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present -stmts only, not checks
-Joint Credit Card Statements/Investment Accounts showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present (if available) 
-Joint Auto Insurance policies & Insurance Cards showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present 
-Joint Health Insurance card/policy & Insurance Cards since you have been married (if available) 
-Joint Warranty Deed, Joint Closing Documents, Joint Homeowner’s Insurance policy;
-Joint Lease Agreement showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint Utility Bills in Joint Names showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Separate Utility Bills in U.S. Citizen’s/Foreign spouse’s name showing marital address to prove you reside together even though the bill is not in both spouses names 
-Joint Auto purchase contract/Automobile Registration showing both spouse names
-Joint Travel tickets/itineraries and boarding passes for trips showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint Receipts for items purchased together, for example, furniture showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint Birth Certificate for child born to the couple (if applicable)
-Joint Gym Memberships showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint Church & Club Memberships showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint BJ’s, Costco & other similar Cards showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Other documentation to show parties have been living together as married spouses showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present. 
-Copy of Driver’s License for both spouses showing the same marital address.

NATURALIZATION: U.S. Residents Should Bring Documents To The Naturalization Interview Including:

- Interview notice 
-Original U.S. Residency Card (Green Card);
-Original Driver’s License
-Original Passport
- ORIGINALS or CERTIFIED copy of your Marriage Certificate, Divorce Decrees or Death Certificates
-If ever arrested or detained for any reason, bring CERTIFIED Police Report & Court disposition 
- Proof “Selective Service” Registration for those ages 18-25
- Name change documents: If you changed your name to something other than that which appears on your Green Card 
-Proof of Child Support for all minor Children 
-Taxes: If you owe any IRS taxes bring a copy of the IRS Installment Agreement & proof of all payments

In Early Naturalization Cases based upon marriage to a U.S. Citizen Residents are also required to bring additional documentation to prove a continuing “real marriage”

Additional Documents To Bring To Your Naturalization Interview For All Marriage Related Naturalization Cases

- Proof that your spouse has been a U.S. Citizen for at least 3 years (copy of Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate, or Valid U.S. Passport);
- Original or CERTIFIED copy of Marriage Certificate for current marriage;
- Original or CERTIFIED copy of all Divorce Decrees or Death Certificates for all your past marriages before the present one;
- Original or CERTIFIED copy of all Divorce Decrees or Death Certificates for all your spouse’s past marriages before the present one;
- Copies of original IRS Tax Returns for past 3 years showing “married or original IRS Transcript for past 3 years (Call the IRS at: 1-800-829-1040) ;
- Copies of Joint Bank accounts statements
- Copy of your home’s Warranty Deed, mortgage documents or Lease in joint name for current marriage;
- Copy of Auto Insurance in joint names;
- Certified copies of Birth Certificates for all child(ren) born in the U.S.;
- Copy of current Utilities statements showing joint names for current marriage;
- Driver’s Licenses copies of each spouses license showing living at the same marital address.
So What Is A Public Charge Bond?

Immigration bonds are already routinely required for many immigrants who seek release from detention while their immigration claims are pending, mainly for deportation cases. Bonds are posted in order to ensure that the immigrant appears in court at their scheduled hearing or departs the U.S. under a voluntary departure agreement. 

Under the public charge rule, the new bond will be a minimum of $8,100, but may be higher, depending upon the individual’s family circumstances, age, family size, health, etc.. A public charge bond will be utilized to ensure that immigrants do not accept prohibited public assistance, and if he or she does, the bond will be forfeited, and the full amount of the bond will become due. In a way, the “Public Charge” bond is similar to a "Bail Bond", in that it is obtained from a bond company, which requires an individual to pledge collateral (property/assets, like Real estate in the U.S., Cash (bond company will hold in escrow account), credit card or letter of credit from a bank). The collateral pledged by the guarantor of the bond (the immigrant, family member or friend) guarantees that the bond will be paid if the individual violates USCIS public charge requirements. In that case, the collateral pledged to secure the bond will be forfeited. Without more details provided by the government, generally, the fee for a bond can be 15% or more. So for example, on a $8,100 bond, the fee would be $ 1,215. Importantly, since the bond will not be released in residency cases until the immigrant has been a U.S. Resident for five years, naturalized, surrendered residency or died, it’s expected that many more residents will be inspired by family members who paid the bond premium to naturalize sooner, rather than later, in order for the bond to be released.

Its important to note, however, that a sponsor (and joint sponsor) who signs form I-864 Affidavit of Support still remains liable to repay the government for all prohibited public assistance received by the immigrant and continues to be obligated until the immigrant naturalizes, has received credit for 40 quarters of employment under the Social Security Act, surrendered residency or died.

How Are Public Charge Bonds Paid?

Immigrants who are notified by a USCIS officer that they are required to post a bond will need to contact a reputable immigration bond company (also called a “surety company”) and have themselves or their family pay the applicable bond fee (premium) required in order for the surety company to post the required bond. Under the rule, a public charge bond must be submitted with a new Form I-945, Public Charge Bond, along with $25 filing fee. 

How and When Will Public Charge Bonds Be Refunded?

The request to cancel a bond must be made on a new Form I-356, Request for Cancellation of Public Charge Bond, which also has a $25 filing fee. To qualify for cancellation, the applicant must provide evidence that the immigrant has been a resident for at least five years, has become a U.S. Citizen, has surrendered residency, permanently departed the U.S. or died