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POSTING DATE: April 13, 2020
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Question: I have a daughter who I want to sponsor and she is 26 and single living in Trinidad. I have my green card but was told it would be faster and better if I get my citizenship in order to file her immigration papers. The problem is that I filed last year and got my interview last month but it got cancelled because the office closed down for the epidemic. Now I am just waiting to get another letter form immigration. I am concerned that all this time passes and I still have not filed for her, is there some way I can file for her now before I get my citizenship? How much longer will it take since I just have my green card? Thanks.
Answer: Amazing as it seems, the waiting time for the child of a U.S. Resident (green card holder) is less than a U.S. Citizen. The immigration category for single adult children of residents is F2B, with a current visa waiting line of about 6 years (as of April 2020), while the immigration category for single adult children of U.S. citizens is F1, with a current visa waiting line of 6 ½ years. It is unfortunate that so many residents unnecessarily wait to become naturalized before they file for children and inadvertently delay the immigration process for their children. The main benefit of a U.S. citizen filing for a single adult child over that of a resident, is that if the sponsoring parent is a citizen and the child marries, he or she does not lose the immigration petition, just automatically moves to a longer immigration visa waiting line, F3 (about 12+ years). Whereas if the single adult child of a resident marries, his or her entire immigration petition is automatically cancelled. So since the national USCIS service centers continue to accept and process cases for all qualifying family members, it makes sense for you to file for your daughter now and get her a place in the immigration visa waiting line, rather than waiting to naturalize. Let us know if you would like us to handle your daughter’s case.
As a result of USCIS local field office closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of U.S. Residents nationwide remain waiting for naturalization interviews and swearing-in ceremonies in order to become U.S. Citizens. After waiting so many years to be eligible, many residents who applied for naturalization, then waited in long processing lines, now find themselves in an impossible position, due to circumstances which were unimaginable only several months ago.
So close to becoming U.S. Citizens, yet so far from the cherished dream. And the ramifications for residents, immigrant family members and our country as a whole are enormous, with the 2020 presidential election looming in November and the deadline for voter registration just months away.
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 dream 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.. 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.
Always Keep 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.
Coronavirus Keeps Thousands Of Residents
Waiting In Limbo For Naturalization
A little known policy, called the Automatic Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Extension rule allows pending residency and other immigrants with expiring work permits to keep working for six months. Under the rule, eligible applicants in certain immigration categories with expiring work permits who have filed for extensions (form I-765), are automatically authorized to continue working for an additional six month period while waiting for the renewal to be issued. This comes in very handy now that the normal processing time for work permit renewals takes six months and is likely to exceed that during and post pandemic. Eligibility is limited to certain immigration categories, including those for pending adjustment of status applicants, called C(9).
Here's a full list of eligible categories below:
Many Immigrants With Expiring Work Permits Eligible
For Automatic Six Month Extension To Work
The deadline to register to vote in the General Election is October 5th in the State of Florida. So as the threat of the virus goes on and the USCIS local office closures continue, the chances that hundreds of thousands of residents will lose the opportunity to become U.S. Citizens and vote in the upcoming presidential elections becomes more at risk with each passing day. Likely this suits Trump and most conservative republicans just fine, which would be the only silver lining they might see to the pandemic. But this is a national tragedy for our country and its democracy which has suffered countless blows during the Trump administration. The damage done to our system during a second Trump term, may have lasting effects for decades to come.
Specifically, the available classes are as follows:
(a)(7) parents or dependent children of people who received permanent residency under INA 101(a)(27)(l);
(a)(8) citizens of Micronesia or the Marshall Islands;
(a)(10), TPS (a)(12), and (c)(19) applicants granted withholding of deportation or removal;
(c)(8) applicants with pending asylum or withholding of deportation or removal;
(c)(9) pending adjustment of status applications;
(c)(10) applicants with pending suspension of deportation and cancellation of removal;
(c)(16) applicants for creation of a record of lawful admission for permanent residence;
(c)(20) and (c)(22) legalization applicants;
(c)(24) LIFE Act adjustment applicants; and
(c)(31) VAWA cases.
The U.S. Department of State (DOS) typically called the “passport office”, is the government entity responsible for the processing and issuance of U.S. passports. With an estimated 20 million U.S. passports issued yearly by the agency, applications are accepted in-person and through the mail. Generally, most first time passport applicants must appear in person at an authorized passport agency, U.S. Post Office or for expedited services, one of the main passport offices in each major city. Regular processing times are 4-6 weeks and expedited processing takes about two weeks. In person emergency services, typically 72 hours. The cost for first time applicants is $145, passport renewals are $110 for adults and $80 for children and expedited services $60.
Department of State Temporarily Suspends In-Person U.S. Passport Services
However in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, the DOS just announced that it is temporarily suspending all in-person services at passport offices, except for a “qualified life-or-death emergency” for citizens who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours. For such services, you can call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778. The agency has also suspended expedited processing services due to reduced staffing.
U.S. citizens may still be able to apply for first time passports in person at some agencies and U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offices. The USPS has an online scheduler which allows citizens to schedule passport application appointments at local offices which continue to accept in person applications. You can get a link to the online USPS scheduler on our website. The DOS continues to accept renewal applications by mail, but warns that application processing will be significantly delayed, which means that original passports and citizenship certificates which are required to be sent by applicants will not be returned during the delayed processing.
Question: I have been on daca for many years, because my parents brought me with them to the U.S. when I was just a kid on a visit and they overstayed. I know the court is going to make a decision on daca soon and I heard its not going to be good, so I am looking at my options. Me and my girlfriend have been dating for 3 years and are thinking about getting married. my question is about whether or not I can get a green card even though I have daca status. Somebody told me that since I am daca I cant qualify for a green card. So can you apply for my Green Card once we get married even though I am on daca? Will I lose my daca status and work permit? How long is the process?
Answer: Great question, yes, DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals) applicants are eligible to apply for Green Cards just like any other immigrant. As long as you entered the U.S. legally and were inspected by an Immigration officer, you are eligible to apply for U.S. Residency inside the U.S.. Since you came with your parent as visitors, you likely entered the U.S. legally. You will need to have your I-94 card in order to prove to the USCIS that you entered the country legally. If you have lost your I-94 card, we can apply on your behalf for a replacement card before filing your Residency application. Once you get married, we can file your residency adjustment of status application and you can use your current DACA work authorization until your new work authorization is approved. Of course due to the coronavirus, USCIS processing has slowed, so even though your residency case will be filed and pending and you receive your residency receipts, there will likely be significant delays in processing times. Likely about 6-8 months for your work and travel permit to be issued and another 4-6 months for your residency interview in order to receive your Green Card.
Question: I am Jamaican living and working here in Kingston and I want to get some information about my elder brother who is a citizen sponsoring me for a green card in the U.S.. Can you please tell me how much time it will take? Can I come there and live and work while I am waiting for my green card? We heard a lot of contradictory information and I want to know the real facts.
Answer: As long as your brother is a U.S. Citizen, he can sponsor you to immigrate to the U.S.. However, there are long lines in most family immigration categories, including siblings. For instance, a brother or sister and his or her family from Jamaica (and most countries) must wait a minimum of approximately 14 years or more, while nationals of other countries like Mexico must wait 22+ plus years or so. The reason siblings have to wait so long is simple – there are only about 65,000 Immigrant Visas per year for brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens and this includes Immigrant visas not only for siblings, but for their spouses and all minor children (under the technical age 21 at the time of immigrating).
So, if there are only 65,000 visas available each year and 780,000 brothers, sisters and their immediate family members apply each year, the line keeps getting longer and longer. However, the sooner your brother begins the process, the sooner you will be able to immigrate. It is also very important to understand from the beginning that U.S. immigration regulations do not allow most family members waiting in immigration visa lines to live and work in the U.S. during the process, unless they are in the U.S. in a legal immigration status which allows them to remain, like a an F-1 student or H-1B worker, etc. If you were to come to the U.S. and overstay, you would then become ineligible to obtain a green card here. I hope this is helpful to you.
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 USICS 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.
A successful E-2 visa can be approved from two up to five years (perpetually renewable) by investing around $100,000 or more in your own 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 or preserve the jobs of existing 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.
The following countries qualify for the coveted E-2 visa:.
•Albania •Argentina •Armenia •Australia •Austria •Azerbaijan •Bahrain •Bangladesh •Belgium •Bosnia and Herzegovina •Bulgaria •Cameroon •Canada •Chile •China (Taiwan) •Colombia •Congo •Costa Rica •Croatia •Czech Republic •Denmark (excluding Greenland) •Egypt •Estonia •Ethiopia •Finland •France •Georgia •Germany •Grenada •Honduras •Israel •Iran •Ireland •Italy •Jamaica •Japan •Jordan •Kazakhstan •South Korea •Kosovo •Kyrgyzstan •Latvia •Liberia •Lithuania •Luxembourg •Macedonia •Mexico •Moldova •Mongolia •Montenegro •Morocco •New Zealand •Netherlands •Norway •Oman •Pakistan •Panama •Paraguay •Philippines •Poland •Romania •Serbia •Senegal •Singapore Slovak Republic •Slovenia •Spain •Sri Lanka •Suriname •Sweden •Switzerland •Thailand •Togo •Trinidad & Tobago •Tunisia •Turkey •Ukraine •United Kingdom