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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              
Immigration How To:
How Do I  Know If I Can Have Dual U.S. Citizenship?
Questions About Immigration? We have the answers!
We Are Here To Help, Call us now for a FREE consultation (954) 382-5378
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Question: I am a citizen born here and my fiancé is here in florida visiting me. She came in January and her return ticket was for last week but the flight got cancelled and she hasn’t been able to get another one. We are supposed to get married in Jamaica in august with both our families attending, but our plans may have to change because of the virus epidemic. We are seriously considering getting married earlier than planned and starting her immigration process now. My question is do we have to request an extension first to give her more time to stay here for her immigration processing in the US? Are we even allowed to get married while she is here visiting and start the process or does she have to go back home?
Answer: Since your fiancée entered the U.S. legally and you plan to get married shortly and file for her residency, you are not required to file an application to extend her status and there is no requirement for her to return to Jamaica. Under current processing procedures, you are permitted to get married and once married, we can file her adjustment of status case and she can stay in the U.S. and live and work here while waiting for your residency interview, then her green card issuance. It will likely take about 6-8 months for her work and travel permit to be issued and perhaps another several months for your marriage interview. The biggest challenge right now may be simply getting married, since many marriage license offices are closed. However you can find one in another county or even another state like Nevada (Las Vegas). 
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued an Alert urging nonimmigrants who are unable to leave the U.S. due to the pandemic to file an application for extension of stay or change of status to preserve legal immigration status in the U.S..

The advisory appears to indicate that the circumstances of the COVID-19 virus will be taken into consideration in processing such requests and that even late filings will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions about filing for an extension of stay or change of status give us a call for free advice at: 954-382-5378.

DHS Extension of Stay Alert 
Dual citizenship refers to individuals who hold the nationality of two different countries at the same time. This allows them to travel frequently between countries without the need for a visa, and without time limits on their stay in either country, as well as the right to vote in both countries. The downside is that many countries like the U.S. require citizens to pay taxes on worldwide income, making U.S. Citizenship an expensive proposition for the very wealthy. 

The rules governing dual citizenship vary depending upon the country, and can occur either automatically according to the current rules of the countries concerned, or by the choice of the individual. 
Local USCIS Field Offices Are Closed, But You Can Still File For Your Naturalization Now!

USCIS office closures have resulted in cancellation of biometrics appointments, interviews and naturalization swearing in ceremonies. But it’s important to know that applications for naturalization are filed and processed at a USCIS Service Center, not at the local USCIS field office. There are lots of reasons to file for naturalization, including government benefits that only U.S. Citizens are eligible to receive. And these days it’s getting more and more common to hear about U.S. Residents who have lived in the U.S. for nearly all their lives being deported because of some stupid criminal incident that happened when they were younger. Under previous administrations, Residents (green card holders) who broke the law had a chance to make amends and still stay in the U.S. through cancellation of removal or other means. 
DHS Issues Alert: Visitors Impacted By The Pandemic Should File 
Extension Applications To Protect Their Immigration Status
Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic and amid local USCIS field office closures in recent months, USCIS Regional Service Centers have remained open, continuing to process immigration applications, including those for residency, family, naturalization, work and travel permits to name a few. 
Coronavirus Threat Causes USCIS Regional 
Service Center  To Close For Several Days
The new minimum income requirements under the I-864 Affidavit of Support have been released for 2020, effective as of March 1, 2020. Income requirements have increased just slightly from 2019. 

For example, the minimum yearly income of $21,550 is now required to sponsor a Spouse, compared with $ 21,137 for 2019. 
New 2020 Affidavit of Support Requirements 
Released For Affidavit of Support
Question: I have a question about our taxes. My wife is sponsoring me but we didn’t file for 2019. Will she still be able to sponsor me even though we don’t have that yet? She owes some money and cant afford to pay right now, we were hoping to have that in a few months but don’t want to delay my green card process. Thanks for your advice. 
Answer: In Residency cases, Immigration regulations require the Sponsor to provide copies of the most current IRS Tax Returns or IRS transcripts, proving that the required tax return has been filed. However, there is no requirement that taxes for the most recent tax year be filed until the deadline. For instance, for immigration cases filed in 2019 (and most other years), April 15th is the normal deadline to file taxes, so residency cases filed after April 15th of 2019 should include copies of the 2018 tax return and w-2. However this year, the tax deadline was extended until July 15, 2020 due to the pandemic, so as long as your residency case is filed before that date, we would not be required to include your 2019 tax return, just the one for 2018. I hope this was helpful to you. 
Question: My daughter was born here in the U.S. and so she is an American and just turned 21 last year. I came here many years ago as a tourist and overstayed, then gave birth to her and she was finally able to file my immigration papers last year to get my status straight. The problem is that I got a letter from Immigration asking me for a copy of that little paper I think its called I94 that I got when I entered in the airport years ago but lost it during numerous moves. I wrote a letter to Immigration along with a copy of the entry stamp in my passport explaining that I lost the actual card and could not provide it. Then last week I got another letter from immigration actually saying my case was denied because I did not prove I entered america legally. But I did and I got a stamp showing that it, I am so upset! My daughter did some searches on the internet and says the letter means that my residency is denied and all the filing fees are lost. Now I am afraid because the letter says I have to leave the US, is it true that they can really deny my green card just for that? Can you please do something because I just don’t have that paper anymore!
Answer: Unfortunately, what you are experiencing is a very common problem. Immigration regulations require that an immigrant prove that he or she entered the U.S. legally. The little I-94 paper you are referring to, called an “Arrival/Departure” card was issued by the Immigration officer to every visitor who entered the U.S. up until 2013. Without providing the USCIS a copy of the card, to prove that you entered the U.S. legally, the USCIS will deny your residency case, even when you provide other evidence of entry, such as a copy of the entry stamp in your passport. These days, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol CBP no longer issues I-94 cards at the border and instead, allows Traveler’s to access and download I-94 printouts for entries within the past several years from their website, but it does not provide records that go back far enough to access your I-94. What we will do is simply to apply for your I-94 replacement and reapply for your residency case immediately with evidence that the replacement has been requested. As long as you act quickly, you will not need to leave the U.S. The USCIS will then process your case and we will provide you with your I-94 replacement card to submit to the USCIS Officer at your residency interview. 
Generally, most immigration applications are filed and processed at USCIS Service Centers, not local USCIS filed offices, which are limited mainly to conducting Biometrics appointments, interviews and swearing-in ceremonies. USCIS Service Centers are located in several states, including California, Vermont, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia and the National Benefits Center in Missouri. So it has been a great comfort to know that even though the local USCIS field offices are temporarily closed, USCIS Service Centers are busy getting cases done, albeit a little slower due to reduced staffing. That is why the recent temporary closure of Vermont Service Center (VSC) due to a COVID-19 scare on April 10th sent shock waves through the legal community, causing fear that perhaps all Service Centers might temporarily suspend services. But the scare passed quickly when the VSC quickly reopened on April 13th. 

However, this should still serve as a notice to all that the possibility exists for Service Center closures and encourage immigrants and sponsors to file applications quickly in order to get their case in the queue in case of a closure. For instance, once a residency (adjustment of status) case is filed, in most cases, the immigrant obtains a pending residency status and is allowed to stay in the U.S. during the entire processing of his or her case. However, if a case is filed late or not able to be filed due to a Service Center closure, falling out of status can be the difference between obtaining a green card in the U.S. or perhaps having to leave the country. As an example, currently, spouses of U.S. Residents who are inside the U.S. maintaining legal immigration status as a visitor or under some other visa, are eligible to file for adjustment of status and once filed, live and work (once the work permit is issued) in the U.S. until they receive a green card. However, if a couple does not file the residency application until after the immigrating spouses I-94 has expired (whether intentionally or is unable to file due to USCIS Service Center closure), the foreign spouse becomes ineligible to adjust status inside the U.S., until the Resident spouse obtain U.S. Citizenship. So those who are eligible should be proactive and file for residency or other immigration benefits as soon as possible, because you never know……… 

Here are the new requirements all states except Alaska & Hawaii:

Annual Income Required 
Family Size    Minimum Adjusted Gross Income

2                       $21,550
3                       $27,150
4                       $32,750
5                       $38,350
6                       $43,950
7                       $49,550
8                       $55,150

*** Add $4,480 for each additional person Add $5,600 for each additional person

Read the new 2020 Poverty Guidelines, which includes all U.S. States 
But under Trump immigration policies, more Residents than ever are being deported, including those with old criminal convictions who had previously received cancellation of removal issued by a federal immigration judge. So increasingly, even those with Green Cards no longer feel safe. That is why it is so important for Residents who qualify to take advantage of the ultimate safeguard to living the American dream – Naturalization. Becoming a U.S. Citizen with all its benefits and protections is the best way to safeguard your life and liberty in the U.S.. U.S. Citizens cannot be deported for any reason, unless they lied on their Naturalization application. For many, the only reason for delay is the high cost of the USCIS filing fee of $725. But the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice of cutting back on other expenses to save the necessary fees. Give it as a gift to yourself or to others!

Here’s a few of the main benefits of becoming a U.S. Citizen:

No risk of Deportation from the U.S.. Even though Residents have legal status in the U.S., they can still be deported in certain circumstances. Even one serious criminal incident by a Resident who has never done anything wrong in the past, however unintentional, can result in removal from the U.S.. U.S. citizens who are convicted of any crime, no matter how serious, cannot be deported. Remember, no one ever thinks they will be convicted of a crime, until they are.

Benefits of a U.S. Passport. Residents may still need to obtain a visa to visit many countries around the world. However, U.S. citizens can travel to a majority of foreign countries without the need for a visa and receive easier entry through foreign borders as well. Another benefit for parents with minor children under age 18 is the ability of your children to automatically naturalize and become U.S. Citizens at the same time and you.

Ability to vote, obtain federal jobs, government benefits and even run for Public Office. Only U.S. Citizens are allowed to vote and even Naturalized U.S. citizens can run for most elected public offices (except the presidency). Similarly, certain federal jobs require U.S. Citizenship and certain benefits are only available to U.S. Citizens.

Ability to sponsor more Family Members. Becoming a U.S. Citizen allows you to sponsor your parents, married children and siblings. Similarly, immigration waiting lines are eliminated for spouses and minor children.

Ability to take long trips outside the U.S. Residents must be very careful about the amount of time they spend abroad and are often fearful of staying outside the U.S. for too long a time. Those who remain outside the U.S. for 180 to 364 days can be challenged by immigration officials about whether or not they reside in the U.S.. Those who remain outside for 365 days or more risk losing their Green Card. U.S. Citizens, however, can remain outside the U.S. indefinitely and still retain all the benefits of citizenship. 

With all these benefits, it simply does not make sense to delay filing for Naturalization. Family members looking for a great Birthday, Anniversary or Christmas Gift should consider paying the $725 USCIS filing fee for a loved one to apply for Naturalization! That’s a gift that keeps giving and lasts for a lifetime, how many other gifts can you say that about? 

For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. citizen parents may be both a national of the country of birth, as well as a national of the U.S.. Similarly, an individual having one nationality at birth may later naturalize and become a citizen of another country. It is important to note, however, that not all countries recognize dual citizenship, which usually means that nationals who obtain foreign citizenship in another country automatically lose citizenship in their birth country. This is the case for nationals of China and India and even Spain, which only permits dual nationality with certain Latin American countries.

Under U.S. law, American citizens are permitted to hold dual nationality with another country and are not required to surrender their citizenship in any other country, unless the other country requires them to do so. For example if a Jamaican national immigrates to the U.S. and later naturalizes and becomes a U.S. Citizen, he or she does not lose Jamaican nationality and is not required to surrender it, in order to obtain U.S. nationality. Naturalized U.S. Citizens will note that at the swearing in Oath Ceremony, they must pledge to renounce all allegiance and fidelity to a foreign country, however this does not apply to citizenship, unless it is required by the other country. Here is a list of countries, which do and do not recognize dual nationality:

Countries which specifically permit full or limited dual citizenship

Antigua and Barbuda
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
New Zealand
South Africa
South Korea
Spain (only limited countries)
United Kingdom
United States

Countries which do not permit dual citizenship:

Marshall Islands
North Korea
Papua New Guinea
San Marino
Saudi Arabia
Solomon Islands
United Arab Emirates

Visit the State Department Website Dual Nationality

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
  POSTING DATE: April 20,  2020