Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: April 2,  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: I have been in America since 2012 when I came here to go to school. I ran out of money about a year later and had to drop out and my visa expired. I met my current husband who is an american citizen in 2016 and we just got married. We want to hire you to file our case, but have a question about my name. I want to change my last name to my husband’s name, but all my official documents like my entry i94, student visa and passport have my maiden name on them. Once we got married a few months ago, I tried to change the name on my driver’s license but they said I needed the name to be changed first on my social security card, but then the lady at social security said they cant change it until my immigration records are changed, so frustrating! I hope you can help us sort this problem out and let me know what I need to do.
Answer: When marrying a U.S. Citizen or Resident, you can change your last name to your spouse’s last name, or even hyphenate your last name with that of your husbands. The USCIS does not require that either your I-94 Card or your Passport (from your home country) have your married name. Your marriage certificate is legally sufficient to request the legal name change. This can all be resolved once we file your Residency petition using your married name. After that, approximately 90 days later you will receive your Work Authorization card and I will send you back to the Social Security Administration office and have your Social Security card updated with your new name, then you can take your new Social Security card, along with your Work Authorization card and residency receipts to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles in order to have your Driver’s License issued with your new married name. Finally, once you have completed the residency process (approx. 12 months), your Green Card will be issued with your new married name. See you soon. 
New Trump Rule Would Make It Illegal For Certain Immigrants 
To Receive Tax Refunds And Credits
In the past few months, there have been numerous reports on the Trump administration’s plans to penalize Immigrants for using government benefits. Now, a new proposed rule has been leaked to the Washington Post which goes much further. According to the draft rule, Immigrants would also be denied green cards for receiving refunds from income tax credits. 

Depending upon the number of family members, the earned income tax credit for 2017 can be more than $5,000 for a family with two children. But under the new rule, receiving the tax credit would make an Immigrant ineligible to obtain Residency (a Green Card) in the U.S..
Immigration How To:
How Do I Make An Online Inquiry On My Immigration Case?
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
 Blockbuster Black Panther Movie Actor Reveals That He Is A Dreamer
As the new smash hit film, Black Panther, continues to break box office records, becoming as one of the most popular superhero movies of all time, one of its stars reveals that he is a Dreamer, holding DACA status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In a brave move, Bambadjan Bamba, who plays a militant leader in “Black Panther,” recently wrote an essay entitled: The World’s Most Popular Superhero is an Undocumented Immigrant in the Washington Post, recounting his family’s escape from the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) travelling to America in an effort to seek asylum. Bamba was only ten years old at the time, arriving in a new country, with no legal immigration status. And once his family’s political asylum case was denied, they were forced to live in the shadows, always in fear of deportation. 

Then along with thousands of other young Immigrants, his life changed in 2012, when President Obama issued an Executive Action, providing protection for Bamba and others under the DACA program for Dreamers. As a result, he, like so many other young Immigrants was able to obtain DACA status and a work permit, which allowed him to pursue his American dream. His story is so much like the story of our country, the heritage of Immigrants from all over the world, grasping at the dream of America, a place in the world where everything is possible and you can be anything you want to be, if you want it bad enough and work hard to attain it! America’s unique character and strength is our history of immigration and if we as a nation are to continue to achieve excellence and “exceptionalism” in the world, we’d be wise to keep the door open and the welcoming light on for Bamba and all the others who make our country a better place. 
Understanding Which Family Members Can Be Sponsored By Whom 
And How Long It Will Take For Them To Immigrate To the U.S.
Now that Trump is into his second year in office, and there are constant threats by Republicans to eliminate most Family immigration categories,  it’s more important than ever for Immigrants and sponsors to educate themselves about basic Immigration Issues. I often get questions from U.S. Citizens and U.S. Residents alike about which family members they are eligible to sponsor, when they are allowed to initiate the process, how many family members can be sponsored at one time and how long it will be before their loved ones can immigrate to the U.S..
Make A USCIS e-Request For Inquiries On Pending Cases

The USCIS offers customers with pending cases the option of sending an electronic e-Request for information using an electronic inquiry form on the USCIS Website. In order to make an inquiry, you will need to have the case number, form type, filing date, zip code on file and other information.

Click Here to Visit the USCIS e-Request Webpage 
The draft rule calls for the USCIS to review up to three years of an Immigrant’s federal taxes to determine whether the individual has received the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. If so, the Immigrant would become ineligible for Residency based upon the “public charge” regulations, which say that in order to qualify for a Green Card, an Immigrant must prove that they will not become a dependent on government assistance in the U.S..

Under current regulations, Immigrants who receive certain public assistance are not eligible for Residency. According to the new proposal, Immigrants who have received the following benefits would be penalized: Earned Income Tax Credit, State or local cash benefit programs, Medicaid, Obama care Government subsidies for health insurance, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Federal housing assistance, including rental vouchers, subsidized child care and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Exempted benefits include: unemployment insurance benefits, school meals and emergency or disaster relief. If enacted, the new restrictions would only apply to an Immigrant’s use of public benefits after the policy goes into effect. Department of Homeland Security officials reportedly told the Washington Post that the rule is being considered for publication sometime this year but is not final at this time and that the administration is eager to ensure “that foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in the U.S are self-sufficient.” 

Read the new draft rule 
The Washington Post
 USCIS Updates Its Webpage To Provide More Accurate Processing Times
The USCIS recently launched a newly redesigned processing times webpage which makes it easier to find the typical processing times for certain kinds of case types. USCIS says the new methodology is automated, making it more accurate, allowing it to post data on processing times within two weeks, compared to six weeks under the old system. 

To locate processing times, you generally need a copy of the case receipt (called a form I-797 Notice of Action) which tells you which USCIS center is processing your case. Select your form type from the dropdown list, then the center where it is being processed to view the current processing times data. 
You can also create an online account  to track the status of your case. For cases outside “normal processing time” you can also make a case inquiry for request online or calling the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.

Read the USCIS announcement about the redesigned webpage
USCIS Processing Times page
Question: my us citizen wife and I just got married and want to file my papers. The problem is that she was self employed for a few years and didn’t pay her taxes. Her accountant says she’s going to owe a few thousand dollars and we cant afford that right now, so she has still not filed the 2015 and 2016 returns. Also, we were concerned that if she filed her taxes now and owes the IRS, then she wont be able to sponsor me. I am wondering if we can just get a cosponsor so she does not have to deal with the taxes issue and the affidavit of support. Can you please help us with the case and tell us what we need to do so she can qualify.
Answer: In Residency cases, Immigration regulations only require that a Sponsor provide a copy of the most recent IRS Tax Return filed and income amounts on tax returns for the preceding two years. There is no requirement that all taxes owed have been paid. Contrast this with Naturalization cases, where Residents are required to show not only have all required tax returns been filed, but also show that either all outstanding taxes have been paid or an agreement for repayment has been reached with the IRS and all payments due under the agreement have been paid as agreed, even if a balance is still due. 

In all cases in which a U.S. Citizen or Resident is sponsoring a family member, the sponsor is required to file the form I-864 Affidavit of Support and provide proof of tax return filing and previous years’ income, even if the sponsor’s current income does not meet the income requirements. In such cases, a joint sponsor can file an Affidavit of Support in addition to the one the main sponsor has filed, showing that they meet the income requirements. The joint sponsor can’t substitute for the sponsor’s affidavit and proof of income, but is in addition to that of the sponsor. U.S. Citizen and Residents who earned enough income to file a tax return are required to show they did so. The USCIS will not allow a sponsor who failed to file tax returns to use a joint sponsor as a substitute. As a result, sponsor’s who meet the threshold to file tax returns must be so before sponsoring a foreign family member. 

So in your case, your wife needs to file her back taxes, as well as the 2017 return coming due this month. She can then enter into an installment agreement with the IRS and pay her tax obligations in monthly installment payments. If her current income meets the requirements, by showing her past three months paystubs and employer letter, then she will not need a joint sponsor. If her current income does not meet the income guidelines, she can always use a Joint Sponsor who’s income does meet the qualifications. Have your wife Email me a copy of her January, February and March paystubs and I will let you know if her income qualifies.
Here’s how it works:
U.S. Citizens are eligible to sponsor:
1) Spouses, Minor Children and Parents (called "Immediate Relatives") 
2) Adult Single Sons & Daughters (and their minor children) F1, 
3) Adult Married Sons & Daughters (and their spouses and minor children) called F3  
4) Brothers & Sisters (and their spouses and minor children) called F4.

U.S. Residents are eligible to sponsor
1) Spouses and Minor Children called F2A and 
2) Adult Single Sons & Daughters (and their minor children) called F2B. 

U.S. Residents cannot sponsor their Parents, Adult Married Sons & Daughters or their Brothers & Sisters. If a child who has been sponsored by a Resident marries before the parent becomes a U.S. Citizen, the Immigration case is automatically cancelled, even if the child later divorces.

Waiting Times For Family Members in all Countries (except Mexico/India & Philippines where waiting times are often much longer): 
1) Immediate Relatives (Spouses, Minor Children and Parents of U.S. Citizens), there is no waiting line, just USCIS and consular processing time (approx 8-12 months). 
2) F1 - Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 6-7 years, 
3) F3 -Adult Married Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 12 years, 
4) F4 -Brothers & Sisters of U.S. Citizens , the waiting line is approx 14 years, 
5) F2A -Spouses and Minor Children of U.S. Residents, the waiting line is approx 2 years and 
6) F2B -Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Residents, the waiting line is approx 7 years.

Under current Immigration regulations, once an Immigrant receives U.S. Residency, (even Conditional Residency through marriage), and similarly when a Resident becomes Naturalized, they are eligible to sponsor any and all family members in any of the qualifying categories. There is no limit on the number of family members which can be sponsored at the same time. For instance, a U.S. Citizen can sponsor an adult, single daughter, a married son and 3 sisters and 2 brothers all at the same time. However, due to the difference in waiting times, each family member be immigrating at different times, depending upon the Family Immigration category. Trump and Congressional Immigration reforms in the future may limit the type and amount of family members allowed to immigrate to the U.S., but for now, the number is limitless, so don’t wait until it is too late. 

Finally, in most cases, family members in the F-1 – F4 categories above must be in legal Immigration status (unexpired I-94) in order be eligible to adjust status to residency in the U.S.. Those filing for adjustment who are not in legal status will be denied and likely put in deportation under a Trump presidency, so get professional advice before filing any residency case! Waivers are available which allow family members who are out of status to obtain residency through consular processing, but not through adjustment of status in the U.S.