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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2016 
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
Question:I have been in America since 2002 when I came as a visitor and overstayed. My mom who is an American citizen then filed an immigration case for me as her adult child and I gave her my original I-94 card, birth certificate and divorce certificates which she sent to the immigration. I had an immigration interview a few years ago, but I was denied because I had stayed in the U.S. after my I-94 expired. Now I am getting married to my American fiancée next month and we want to file my immigration papers to get my legal status, but I don’t have my original I-94 card anymore and don’t have even a copy of my birth certificate and 2 previous divorce certificates which were very difficult to get in my country in the first place. I was told I can't file my residency case without proof that I came to the U.S. legally with that I-94 card. Is there anything you can do to get me a copy of those documents I sent to the immigration department and help me file my case?
Answer: We can do several things. First, file a request for a duplicate I-94 card. Processing time takes several months, but we can use the request receipt to file with your residency application, in place of a copy of your I-94 card. Second, we can file a Freedom of Information request called a “FOIA” with the Department of Homeland Security to obtain a copy of your immigration file. The processing time can take 2-4 months or more, but the results should provide us with a copy of most, if not all of your immigration-related documents, which should include a copy of your Birth and divorce certificates. You will need to obtain certified/officially stamped copies of your previous divorces and Birth Certificate for your Residency interview, but we only need to provide the USCIS with copies of your documents (never originals) to start the process. 
This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen
Department of State Publishes “E-Fam” Online Foreign Affairs Manual
2016 Rundown of States Which Issue Driver's Licenses To Undocumented Immigrants
Most states which issue Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants without legal Immigration status Immigrants require proof of residency in the state for at least 6 months and some up to 24 months prior to application. 

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides a map and brief requirements list for each state. 
The Department of State recently published the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) online for public viewing. The FAM governs consular procedures and provides guidance to consular officers in visa issuance to foreign nationals. 

The E-Fam can be searched for laws and procedures for most visa types.  

Visit the E-Fam online:
E-Fam Foreign Affairs Manual Online
The USCIS announced last week that it had received over 236,000 H-1B applications during the official filing period, which began April 1st. Only 85,000 H-1B work visas are available for issuance each year.

On April 9th, the USCIS used a computer-generated random selection process, called a “lottery” in order to randomly select petitions. 15-day Premium Processing will begin no later than May 16, 2016 for those who paid the additional $1,225 fee. Here's the announcement: USCIS H-1B Update
Customs And Border Patrol Issues Q & A About The Visa Waiver Program & ESTA
The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has provided an updated Frequently Asked Q & A for Travelers about the Visa Waiver Program & ESTA, now that new rules have taken effect since April 1st, 2016. 

Visit the CBP Q & A Website:
Customs & Border Patrol Frequently Asked Q & A
Immigration How To:
How Do Get Through Customs Faster At Miami Airport?  
Here’s a current list of States (and the District of Columbia) which presently allow undocumented Immigrants to obtain Driver’s Licenses:

District of Columbia
New Mexico

Visit the  National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for a map and brief requirements list for each state:
 National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Website
USCIS Received 236,000 H-1B Applications For Only 85,000 Available Work Visas
Question: I am in the U.S. as a foreign student and I will finish school in June 2016 with a Master’s degree. Then I get 1 year of work authorization once I graduate. I just got married with my permanent resident girlfriend. We are wondering if she applies for my green card, how long should it take for me to get my residency in the U.S.?
Answer: Immigration regulations allow spouses of U.S. Citizens who entered the U.S. legally to file for adjustment of status inside the U.S. immediately and the process for a green card takes between 6-12 months, depending upon the state. This is in contrast to the rules regarding spouses of U.S. Residents, who are not eligible to adjust status in the U.S. until an Immigrant Visa becomes available (in most circumstances). The Immigrant visa process right now for the spouse of a U.S. Resident is estimated at about 1 1/2 years and once the spousal immigration petition is filed, spouses who are inside the U.S. cannot legally wait inside the U.S. to receive a Green Card, unless they are here on an F-1 or some other legal visa which allows them to legally stay in the U.S.. In your case, since you are married to a U.S. Resident and not a U.S. Citizen, you must maintain your legal status in the U.S. until either an Immigrant Visa becomes available to you in about 1 ½ years or until your wife become a U.S. Citizen. Since you are currently in legal status on an F-1 student visa and will get your post graduation work permit for a year, you likely will be able to file for your adjustment of status mid 2017. After that, if you live in South Florida, it will take another 6 months or so to receive your residency interview and Green Card.
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Stay Informed - Sign-up For USCIS E-Notification & Email Updates 
On Your Immigration Case 
To request e-notification, download and complete form G-1145 and mail along with all Immigration applications.  

Once you receive your case number, go to the USCIS website and sign up for Email Status updates on your case through the USCIS My Case Status program. Once you register and enter your case number(s), the USICS will automatically email you notifications and updates on any actions take on your case so that you are better informed about your case status. 
For instance, once your Immigration application is filed, the USCIS may issue you a letter requesting more evidence in order to continue processing the case. If you are registered to receive case status updates, you will receive an email notification that the USCIS has issued the request, which helps you to be aware that you should be receiving the request by mail soon. If you have not received the request, you can then make further inquiries. Similarly, once you respond to the USCIS request, you will receive an updated email notification that they have received your documentation. It’s a great way to stay informed and keep up to date on the status of your case as it is being processed.
The USCIS  offers several ways for Applicants to get updates on newly filed and pending Immigration cases. Immigrants and Sponsors filing Immigration applications with the USCIS can now sign-up to receive text messages and email E-notifications confirming application receipt by the USCIS, along with the case receipt number(s). The receipt number allows individuals to track the status of their case online. E-notifications are issued within 24 hours after the USCIS receives the application.
A program  implemented by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency at Miami and other major airports, expedites entry and reduces wait times using a new Mobile Option for Customs Declaration, called “Mobile Passport Control (MPC)”.

This  mobile cell phone application allows U.S. Citizens and Canadians to submit their passport information and customs declaration forms via the smartphone and tablet app prior to CBP inspection. Android and iPhone users can download Mobile Passport for free from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Cell Phone Application Expedites Customs Processing 
At Miami Airport
Visit the CBP Mobile Passport Website:
Mobile Passport