Tell a friend about this page

Learn More About:

Add this page to your favorites.

Add this page to your favorites.
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  Keep From Losing My Green Card At U.S. Border?
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 saw where you said that a person can apply for more time to stay here. My situation is this, I came here to visit my aunt in November of last year and I am supposed to go back this month. I have been dating my usa boyfriend since last year (we met in December at a party) and now we want to get married. We are not sure if I need to ask for more time to stay here before my time expires or not. Can we save the money for an extension and just use it on the green card fees instead or do we need to file the request first then be able to file the papers for my green card? Thanks.
Answer: No, very important to understand that until a resident attends his or her Naturalization swearing in ceremony and takes the oath, he or she is not a U.S. Citizen. There are many cases where a resident passes the naturalization exam and either never receives the swearing in notice because they moved or it got lost, or simply fails to go, that after a certain time, they have to restart the entire naturalization process all over again. In your case the local USCIS office will reschedule your swearing in as soon as they reopen. They are scheduled to reopen nationwide on June 4th, so if they have not issued your notice by July 3rd make sure and call the USCIS 800#. If you file your wife’s I-485 residency application before you are sworn in as a U.S. Citizen, her case will be denied and you will lose your filing fees, even though you will become a U.S. Citizen while the case is pending. I hope this is helpful to you.
The Trump administration is expected to broaden its existing immigration ban soon, by imposing new visa restrictions using broad presidential powers afforded an executive during a national emergency, like the Coronavirus pandemic. Under the current restrictions issued by Trump on April 22, 2020 in a presidential proclamation entitled: “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak”, a 60 day pause was imposed on the issuance of new immigrant visas for foreign nationals abroad. 

The measure further provided that the administration would undertake a 30-day review “to recommend additional measures on temporary visas”. The forgone conclusion of the review is that many expect the administration to announce a new set of restrictions on immigration, including those on H-1B visas for workers and F-1 visas for students and others. 
Get Ready, Trump Likely To Impose New Immigration Restrictions
 In The Coming Months In Bid To Win Re-election

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
  POSTING DATE: May 11,  2020
Tips On Obtaining Green Cards For Your Parents, 
as "Immediate Relatives" 
Under current Immigration regulations, Parents are in the special immigration category called “Immediate Relatives” (which includes Spouses and Minor children of U.S. Citizens as well), which gives them preference over other family immigration relationships. During the Trump administration, there have been many proposals to eliminate residency for parents, but up to now these efforts have failed.
Naturalization Concerns For U.S. Residents 
Outside The U.S. During the Pandemic
Question: my question is if I went to my citizenship appointment and did my test in march before all this virus got started and my swearing in appointment got cancelled due to the epidemic, once I get my citizenship, will it start from the date I passed my test in March or from when I get sworn in? I am wondering since this thing goes on and on and what if I cant get citizenship until next year? My wife is here with her expired visa and we have been waiting for all these years for me to get citizenship so I can file her papers. Cant I just file it now since my swearing in was cancelled and immigration knows that I did everything to qualify it was their fault that I couldn’t get my certificate? Would they take this whole virus situation into account and give my wife her status?
Answer: Great question. As long as you don’t delay too long and go ahead and get married and file for your residency, there is no need to file a request to extend your stay in the U.S.. The reason is that immigration regulations forgive your “overstay” as long as you entered the U.S. legally, are married to a U.S. citizen and have filed to adjust your status. Since you meet the criteria, you can save the $455 USCIS filing fee to extend status and put it towards the $1,760 USCIS filing fee for residency instead! Let me know if you would like me to handle your residency case.
Question: I heard about the president stopping immigration for 60 days and I want to know if it applies to my kids. I got my green card in april through my adult daughter who is a citizen. I have kids at home in Jamaica depending on me. I planned to file their papers now I don’t know what to do. Can you please tell me if you can help me file for them or if we have to wait and how long. My kids are 9, 13 and 17. I am really worried about my eldest because my daughter says I can only file for her until she is 18 is that true? I appreciate all you do.
Answer: Hi dear, no need to worry, the current 60 day suspension policy does not apply to newly filed case, just cases which are being processed for their final immigrant visa interviews at U.S. Consulates abroad. In you case we can file for all your children now, there is no need to wait. Children are eligible to immigrate to the U.S. through a parent as a “minor” until age 21, so there is no concern about your 17 year old. The only issue now is whether and when Trump might expand his immigration suspension and broaden it to include the filing of family immigration cases. It is possible, but not probable. The current processing time for the minor children of a U.S. resident is about 12-14 months and maybe add a few months due to delays caused by the pandemic. I will email you the law firm questionnaire and document list so we can get started.
Most U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) understand the basic requirements for Naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen. This includes having been a resident for at least 4 years and 9 months, (or 2 years and 9 months if married to a U.S. citizen, called “Early Naturalization”), being at least 18 years old, having a “good moral character”, being able to read and write and be proficient enough in English in order to answer questions about your Naturalization application, U.S. history and civics (with few exceptions). 

But what many do not fully understand is one of the most important requirements of all, having continuous residence and physical presence in the U.S.. 
Concerns mount among U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) who are stuck outside the U.S. due to the pandemic that they will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. and could have their Green Card taken away at the U.S. border.

 This is often the reality for some residents when Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) officers at airports and other borders request that they relinquish their cards and sign official I-407 forms to "voluntarily" abandoning their status as a "lawful permanent resident of the U.S.. 
National Visa Center Still Processing Immigrant 
Visa Cases During Sixty Day Suspension
On April 22, 2020 Trump signed a proclamation to temporarily suspend the issuance of immigrant visas to those abroad for 60 days. So where does that leave immigrants who are stuck in the immigrant visa process? The simple answer right now is that immigrant visa cases are continuing to be processed by the National Visa center (NVC). 
U.S. citizens can sponsor their parents for “Green Cards”, while Permanent Residents cannot. Even Parents of U.S. citizens who are inside the U.S. with expired immigration status are eligible, as long as the Parent entered the U.S. legally. As "Immediate relatives", Parents do not have to wait in long visa waiting lines and are allowed to immigrate immediately, only subject to regular USCIS and if applicable, consular processing. The process is very quick, 8+ months or so from the start to Green Card! If this changes, Parents may have to wait several years or more to complete the process and may be subject to work and other restrictions. The only drawback of this category is that it is only for the individual parent and does not include any dependents, such as spouses or minor children. 

Therefore, if the Parent has a spouse who is not considered to be your Parent (for immigration purposes), he or she would not be able to immigrate along with the Parent. Step-parents are considered to qualify as “parents” for immigration purposes, as long as the step-parent relationship was established before the child reached the age of 18. The same is true of any minor children of a Parent (your brother or sister). This is a harsh rule which often causes difficult choices for Parents of U.S. citizens. One option for Parents abroad who have minor children (or a spouse) is for them to obtain F-1 student visas for their minor children (or spouse) before immigrating to the U.S. In that way, both the Parent and his or her child (and/or spouse) can be in the U.S. together. Once the Parent obtains a Green Card, the Parent can then immediately sponsor his or her children and if applicable, a spouse and under current law and processing times, it takes about one year or so to immigrate as the spouse or minor child of a U.S. Resident.

Obtaining Residency For Parents

These new measures will likely apply to foreign nationals abroad who have not yet been issued work visas, but may also affect students inside the U.S. by restricting or even prohibiting their right to work after graduation (on OPT work permits).

Many see Trump’s continuing attack on immigration as part of a broader strategy aimed at reducing overall immigration to the U.S., which includes his imposition of the new “Public Charge” rule in February 2020, the requirement for health insurance, cancellation of DACA and many others, all in order to restrict family and other legal immigration. This scheme was recently confirmed by key Trump immigration advisor, Stephen Miller during a call with a group of conservative supporters in which he promised that the 60 day immigration suspension was just one of many steps in the administration’s overall plan to reduce legal immigration. He and other immigration hard-liners continue to urge Trump to take more extreme measures to reduce nearly all family immigration, which conservatives call “chain migration”, by eliminating most family immigration categories for parents, adult children, siblings and others . Only spouses and children of U.S. citizens and residents would qualify. 

This is in line with the Republican sponsored Raise Act, reintroduced in Congress last year and supported by Trump, to end family-sponsored immigration, terminate the Diversity Visa Program, and establish a skills-based immigration points system. Under normal circumstances in the past, such measures severely restricting immigration were seen as too extreme, and even rejected by many conservatives. But now, with Trump able to wield nearly unchecked presidential powers during this pandemic, he and others may take this opportunity to drastically suspend many types of immigration, including those for parents, adult children, siblings and others. And as the 2020 Presidential election comes closer, the more pressure Trump will have to exact ever more extreme executive orders and proclamations to satisfy his anti-immigrant supporters and give him rhetoric for his campaign speeches and endless tweets! Stay tuned………. 
White House Statement on Raise Act
Raise Act

Continuous residence requires a resident to show that he or she has lived in the U.S. for the past five years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen). Physical presence, means that a resident has actually been “physically” inside the U.S. for at least half the time of their required continuous residence, meaning 2.5 years in the past 5 years prior (or 1.5 years if married to a U.S. citizen). Importantly, residents are not required to remain inside the for the continuous period of “physical presence” all at one time and are allow to use time accumulated during the requisite period. So generally, it’s fairly easy for a resident seeking to qualify to apply for naturalization to add up all the time spent in the U.S. during the past five (or three) year period, in order to determine the date that he or she is eligible to apply for naturalization. The glitch, however, is that any period of time spent outside the U.S. for 180 continuous days (six months) or more up to 364 days breaks a resident’s physical presence in the U.S. and generally "resets" the continuous residence clock. That means that all the physical time accumulated in the U.S. prior to leaving is totally lost and the time required for continuous residence starts all over again. There are some exceptions, for instance when a resident can prove that although they were outside the U.S. for 180 days, but less than a year, they continued to maintain residency in the U.S.. However the burden of proof is on the resident to provide documentary evidence, for instance that they continued to be employed in the U.S. during that time, that their immediate family members remained in U.S., they maintain a home, car, insurance, bank accounts, utilities, filed tax returns, etc. However in a very strange twist, re-entering the U.S. after staying outside for 365 days or more allows a resident to apply for naturalization in only 4 years + 1 day (2 years + 1 day for residents married to a U.S. citizen) weird, but true!

So residents who are stuck outside the U.S. and unable to return due to the pandemic and related travel restrictions have a lot of issues to consider: 

Outside U.S. Less Than 180 Days: Those who have not yet been outside the U.S. for 180 days or more might want to strongly consider re-entering the U.S., even if briefly, once international travel resumes. Best not to risk the consequences of having to provide proof of residing in the U.S., especially when one has not maintained a home or apartment, employment, automobile, tax returns and insurance, etc.

Residents Outside The U.S. For 180 days, But Less Than 1 Year: Those who have already been outside the U.S. for 180 days, but less than a year may want to be prepared to provide proof to the officer upon entering that U.S. showing that they have been residing in the U.S. and were simply stuck outside due to the pandemic, but returned immediately once flights resumed. Then when applying for naturalization, be prepared to provide extensive documentation outlined above to prove that he or she continued to maintain a residence, employment, etc. in the U.S. during the extended absence during the pandemic.

Residents Outside The U.S. For 1 Year Or More: Residents who have been outside for a year or more have a lot more to worry about than simply when they can file for naturalization, first and foremost they need to be concerned about preserving their green card. After an absence of 365 days or more, a resident must apply as a Returning Resident (SB-1) Visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad ( form DS117) and submit proof that they reside in the U.S. and are returning from a temporary trip which was extended due to circumstances beyond thier control related to the pandemic, for instance cancelled flight to the U.S.. The other alternative is applying at the U.S. port of entry (Customs and Border Protection) by providing the same proof, complete the form I-193, Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa and pay the $585 filing fee. If allowed to re-enter the U.S., the resident can then apply for naturalization in 4 years and 1 day. 

Tips For U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) Stuck Outside The U.S. Due To The Pandemic!
Returning Resident Visas
The NVC CEAC system continues in operations (although with intermittent technical glitches that last for days at a time) and they are working with a reduced staff, but otherwise able to continue to provide services. 

Applicants should continue to “properly” upload the required financial and civil documents and complete and submit the DS260. Once the suspension expires (as long as it is not further extended), the NVC will likely continue with forwarding cases to U.S. Consulates for the final interviews in a first in, first out basis. Should the unthinkable happen and the 60 day policy be extended, most uploaded documentation will remain valid, however police certificates which have been issued more than one year prior to the interview will have expired and will likely need to be reissued. Those needing assistance can still call the NVC at 603-334-0700 to speak with a representative from 7:30 AM to 12:30 AM (EST), Monday through Friday, but may take quite a few redials in order to make it into the call queue. However persistence is the key. 

NVC Resources 
Such actions by CBP officers requesting Green Card holders to voluntarily relinquish their U.S. Residency status is common, in circumstances where a Resident has been absent from the U.S. for a long period of time, including a year or more, or when the traveler otherwise gives information or statements which clearly indicate that he or she does not reside in the U.S.. However, recent events at airports have caused heightened alarm among many Residents so much so, that even in emergency circumstances like a death in the family, many fear traveling, even for a brief trip abroad.

U.S. Residents who really do live in the U.S. and who have not been travelling abroad for extended periods of time (180 consecutive days or more) recently, and who do not have any serious criminal convictions, should not fear travelling abroad and do not risk losing their Green Cards when they try to re-enter the U.S..

Here’s a few quick tips:

Take documents with you which show that you actually live in the U.S. like 
1) Paystubs for past several months 
2) current electric or other utility bill and 
3) copy of a current Lease or property Deed and 
4) current bank statements which show regular purchases and use of the bank account in U.S.. 

Note that items such as U.S. Driver’s License or tax return do not necessarily show that a Resident actually lives in the U.S., especially if the tax return shows foreign earned income and does not show employment in the U.S..

Never stay outside of the U.S. for more than 179 continuous days at one time, since that not only “resets” the clock for accrual of physical presence for Naturalization purposes, but it is also a potential red flag to the CBP officer that you may not actually reside in the U.S. and can lead to more serious questioning, which can sometimes lead to a request for you to voluntarily relinquish your Green Card.  

Understand your rights! You are not required to voluntarily relinquish your Green Card at the border and have the right to request a hearing before an immigration judge and you will be allowed to enter the U.S. to wait until that hearing. During the hearing, you have the burden of providing substantial documentary proof that you actually reside in the U.S. and that your absence from the U.S. was temporary. It’s always a good idea to have a qualified Immigration attorney to advise and assist you in understanding what kind of proof is required to present your best case to the Judge.

Finally, as I have advised in the past, things are likely going to get tighter at the airport inspections and other borders. U.S. Residents who do not now live in the U.S. should start making plans to either begin residing here for more periods of time during each year and start establishing documentary proof of residence, like having a lease, utilities, car, insurance, etc in your name. Remember that Residents are required to file U.S. tax returns as Residents and must report worldwide income (but not assets). It’s best to prepare now, rather than face losing your U.S. Residency because you were not better prepared. 

Once a Resident loses his or her Green Card, they cannot ever get the same one back, instead, they must start all over again. Sometimes that is possible if you are the parent or spouse of a U.S. Citizen, but in many cases, a Resident obtained their Green Card through a marriage that is now dissolved, or through parents that are now elderly or through siblings and may have to wait a decade or more once the process is started all over again.