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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
POSTING DATE: APRIL 24, 2017
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter © 2011 - 2017
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Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News
New 2017 Poverty Guidelines Released
for Affidavit of Support (Form I-864)
The new minimum income requirements under the I-864 Affidavit of Support have been released. U.S. Citizen and U.S. Resident Sponsors are required to meet or exceed 125% of the Poverty Guidelines in order to qualify. The income requirements for 2017 have increased just slightly from 2016.
For example, the minimum yearly income of $ 20,300 is now required to sponsor a Spouse, compared with $20,025 for 2016.
USCIS Announces That Green Cards and Employment Authorization
Cards Have Been Redesigned
Question: I am an American and I sponsored my wife and step-son for residency when he was 15 years old. He has now graduated from college, become an American Citizen and just turned 21yrs old. His biological father is here from Venezuela visiting on a tourist visa and my step-son is worried about him going back to that country with all the riots and things going on right now. He wants to see if there is anything he can do to sponsor him. My question is whether he would still be able to ask for his father, since I sponsored him as his step-dad. Can you please clear this up for us so we can begin giving you the papers to file for his green card if that is possible and find out how long the process takes, thanks again for your help.
Answer: That is a great question. As long as a child is age 21 or older, he or she can sponsor biological parents for residency, even though the U.S. Citizen child may have obtained U.S. residency through a U.S. Citizen step-parent such as yourself. Parents of U.S. Citizens are considered as “immediate relatives” and there is no waiting line. When parents are outside the U.S., the process takes between 8-12 months to process and receive an immigrant visa. When parents are in the U.S., the process is very quick, about six months to receive the residency interview and residency card soon thereafter. In this case, since the biological father is in the U.S. and entered legally, he is eligible to obtain a Green Card in the U.S. and wait here and does not need to return to Venezuela. Once the residency case is filed, it currently takes 3 months to receive the work permit and travel permit (then social security card) and approximately 6 months for U.S. Residency (Green Card).
Tips On Getting Your U.S. Travel History Records Quickly & Easily
Foreign travelers to the U.S. often need to determine how many days they have spent inside the U.S. for Tax and other purposes. However, it can sometimes be difficult to determine exact dates by using one’s own passport stamps alone, since some entry stamps may be stamped over existing stamps, with exact dates almost impossible to read. Now there is a quick and easy way to get your past five-year travel history.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency keeps automated records of entry and exit data for non-immigrants who visit the U.S.. You can now access and printout your own travel history and current I-94 Arrival/Departure card by visiting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website. You’ll need have the following information handy: your first and last name, your full date of birth, your passport number, and the country of issuance of your passport.
While in the midst of hurricane season, it’s a good time to remind Immigrants and their sponsors about taking steps to safeguard your Immigration-related documentation, cards and certificates in case of potential loss, theft (automobiles, home) and of course, natural disasters such as hurricanes and water damage.
Always Safeguard Your Vital Immigration Documents
Helpful Immigration Hints You Can Use
The USCIS announced last week that on May 1, 2017, it will begin issuing redesigned Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card) and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The redesign is part of its “Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project” which uses enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features to make the cards more secure and more tamper-resistant.
According to the announcement, the new Green Cards and EADs will have the following added features:
Display the individual’s photos on both sides;
Show a unique graphic image and color palette:
Have embedded holographic images;
No longer display the individual’s signature;
Green Cards will have an image of the Statue of Liberty and a green palette and no longer have an optical stripe on the back.
EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle and a red palette;
The USICS notes that some Green Cards and EADs issued after May 1, 2017, may still be in the existing format and are still valid. Also, current versions of both cards remain valid until expiration.
USCIS Terminates Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
For Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
The USCIS has advised that it will not extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and the TPS status for these individuals in the U.S. will terminate effective May 21, 2017.
The Department of Homeland Security has urged nationals of these countries who have not changed to another legal immigration status to prepare to depart from the U.S. by May 21, 2017. Under Trump’s new policies, TPS status programs coming up for renewal may be in doubt as to whether or not other such programs will be terminated as well.
Visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website to access your records:
Helpful Immigration Hints You Can Use
How Do I Safeguard My Immigration Documents?
Steps to take:
The first step is to be sure that you always make a copy of the entire immigration petition and supporting documentation BEFORE sending to the USCIS.
Second, make copies of all receipts, notices and correspondence to and from the USCIS. A good approach is to keep everything in a three hole punch binder in date order. People often keep such documents in the original envelope, which increases the chance of loss, since envelopes fall out of files. Also, this method makes it difficult to quickly access the documents needed.
Third, copies should always be made of original Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, Divorce Decrees, Citizenship (Naturalization) Certificates, Green Cards, Passports and I-94 cards (which should always be stapled into the passport to safeguard it from falling out and getting lost). Once copies are made, the originals should be kept safely together in a file and enclosed in a zip-lock bag or other waterproof container. Safety deposit boxes at your local bank are often free with your account and provide an additional method of protection, for original documents and copies.
Fourth, always immediately obtain a copy of every immigration petition along with copies of all supporting documentation and money orders and receipts from your Attorney. Don’t assume that such documents will be provided later. It is your right to have a copy of everything - always. Get formal receipts (with the attorney’s name and address) for all fees paid which specifically detail what the payment was for and once a petition is filed on your behalf, make sure you request the original receipt, doing the same with the approval notice. Also, never leave original documents with your attorney, since only copies of most documents are provided to the USCIS. Some exceptions would be original certified criminal documents, etc.
Finally, as an Immigrant, you should maintain your original immigration documents (and copies) forever, since you never know when you will need them. Don’t rely upon the USCIS immediately knowing and recognizing your status simply because you know it. The burden of proof is always on you to provide documentation, certificates, cards, passports, etc to prove to the USCIS that you have immigration status and benefits. Documentation is your strength and security.
Here’s a few important tips for Sponsors to remember when filing an Affidavit of Support:
Always include a copy of:
a) your most recent tax return and W-2
b) past 3 months paystubs and
c) current letter from your employer stating your fulltime position, dates of employment and wages (which match your paystubs). Note that even if the sponsor does not meet the requirements, and uses the income of a Joint Sponsor, he or she must still file an I-864 and include evidence of income.
When submitting an I-864 from a Joint-sponsor who does meet the minimum income qualifications and be sure to include: a) copy of the Joint-sponsor’s U.S. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport, Naturalization Certificate or Green Card
b) copy of the most recent tax return and W-2
c) past 3 months paystubs and
d) current letter from his or her employer stating fulltime position, dates of employment and wages (which match his or her paystubs).
Importantly, most U.S. Citizen parents sponsoring minor children under age 18 are not required to file an Affidavit of Support, since the immigrating child will automatically become a U.S. Citizen upon obtaining U.S. Residency. Instead, the child is required to file form I-864W requesting the exemption.
You can learn more about preparing I-864 Affidavits of Support and meeting the minimum income requirements by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.